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Sec. Adams Speaks to Covington Rotary Club About Election Reform

Kentucky's Secretary of State Michael Adams spoke to the Covington Rotary Club during its monthly meeting Tuesday about his office's goals and accomplishments so far. 

Adams started his remarks by saying that he was grateful for the Rotary Club's existence, explaining that he had a lot of trouble getting in front of people when he started his campaign in 2019, but the club's chapters gave him a platform to get in front of the public. He also said that he believes the Rotary Club could be instrumental in cooling some of the current discourse taking place. 

"The problem that we have in this country is cultural, and you all get together and see the humanity," Adams told the club. "It's the only way I see we can lower the tone." 

Sec. Adams then spoke about the 2020 election, explaining that his office was given more power to hold an election during a pandemic, that those powers expired as their need became less, in his view, and how he took the lessons from that election to work with the legislature and implement adjusting Kentucky's voting system. HB574, the bill that was the product of this process, was passed into law earlier this year in April. 

"This was the largest election reform bill in Kentucky since 1891," Adams said while emphasizing how the bill was passed in a bipartisan manner in an age of partisan warfare. 

Adams said that four main points derived from his experience with the 2020 election of the bill were:

  • Four days of early voting, including a Saturday
  • The option for County Clerks to create a centralized voting location within their counties
  • The on-line absentee ballot portal, that allows voters to track their ballots to the point it is cast
  • The reconciliation process for absentee ballots that have inconsistencies, like mismatched signatures

In 2017, if an absentee ballot was received and the signature on the ballot didn't match the original voter registration signature, the ballot would get thrown out and remain uncounted. Now, county clerks' staff must call the voter to verify that the received ballot was legally cast. 

Adams said that these expansions to the absentee voting process in particular did not increase cases of fraud - citing that the state only received one case in 2020, it was a man who tried to vote twice and he was referred to a grand jury. 

The secretary then said that three more important changes to the voting system contained in the bill are:

  • Banning the process of ballot-harvesting
  • The Sec. of State's office receiving more power needed to further clean up the voter rolls
  • Moving towards a 100 percent paper ballot voting system 

He said that his office is now focused on implementing these changes, making sure they work smoothly, and improving the workflow of the business-filing-and-management aspect of his office.

Meanwhile, on Twitter days before his appearance in Covington, Secretary Adams asked who is next challengers might be by posting an image of the campaign signs of his vanquished rivals from the 2019 Republican primary and general election.

His office also updated the state on current voter rolls this week.

Kentucky’s voter registration remains stagnant, as July saw an increase of only 1,713 voters to the rolls, Adams's office reported.

While 6,339 new registrations were logged, 4,626 registrations were canceled (3,203 deceased voters, 928 voters who moved out of state, 436 felony convicts, 35 voters who voluntarily de-registered, 23 voters adjudged mentally incompetent, and 1 duplicate registration).

“Our ongoing struggle against the coronavirus continues to inhibit voter registration activities,” Adams said. “Remember you can register to vote at our website,”

Democratic registrants represent 46.3 percent of the electorate with 1,648,380 registered voters. Democratic registration dropped by 1,410 since June 30, a 0.09 percent decrease. Republican registrants total 1,578,257, or 44.3 percent of voters. Republicans saw an increase of 1,998 registered voters, a rise of 0.13 percent from June 30.

In addition, 9.4 percent of voters, 335,037, are listed under other affiliations, which saw an increase of 1,125 registrants since June 30, a 0.05 percent climb.    

-Connor Wall, associate editor

Michael Monks, editor & publisher, contributed to this report