Kentucky Ranks Low in Voter Access, Study Says

Oct 29, 2014
Originally published on October 28, 2014 7:01 pm

Kentucky is among the most difficult states in which to vote, according to a new study measuring voter access across the country.

Kentucky is one of ten states highlighted in the study, which was released Tuesday by Common Cause, a non-partisan organization

The analysis measures state-by-state effectiveness of proposals made by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The PCEA has recommended states shorten wait times, make ballot language easy to read and allow voters to register online.

“Kentucky has, frankly, not made major advances,” said Stephen Spaulding, Policy Council for Common Cause and co-author of the study.

Spaulding noted that Kentucky has improved in one area: providing more information and accessibility for military and overseas voters online.

Among the 19 criteria listed in the study, Kentucky only netted a "satisfactory" score in two areas (recruitment of poll workers and disability access to the polling place).

Kentucky received "unsatisfactory" scores related to the exchange of voter information, electronic polling and the establishment of vote centers.

“Kentucky is really behind the times, for example, on transitioning to electronic poll books. Kentucky ranks dead last. It is the only state that has not transitioned to electronic poll books,” Spaulding said.

Common Cause has advocated for voters to have access to early voting for those who are unable to make it to the polls on Election Day. This would encourage higher turn-out during elections overall.

Richard Beliles, Kentucky director for Common Cause, said another major barrier against Kentuckians' voting rights is current law barring former felons from voting.

“Common Cause has been lining up with other partners like the NAACP to sort of work on this, to preclude this law that keeps former felons that have paid their dues in prison term and yet they want to be good citizens again and still can't vote,” said Beliles.

Beliles says that Common Cause will continue to work with these voting groups in the coming legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly. 

Readers can view a complete copy of the Common Cause study here

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