(Editor’s Note: Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams sent this response to a column by Kentucky State Senator Adrienne Southworth that appeared in the Local Perspective page of the July 13 issue of The Local.)
Your state senator is “making allegations that are false and that threaten the healthy functioning of our democracy.”
That’s according to hundreds of state and local election officials – Republicans and Democrats – across Kentucky. The State Board of Elections, the Kentucky County Clerks Association, the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association, and the Kentucky County Attorneys Association, speaking for their members, called your state senator out for spending a year touring the state spreading false information about Kentucky’s election process. She only wrapped up her tour when questions were raised about her violating state ethics law by selling tickets to and appearing to profit from the events.
Here are facts about our election process, which she ignores in her innuendo but never actually disputes:
* No Kentucky voting equipment is ever connected to the Internet. Votes are tabulated by your county board of elections – your sheriff, your county clerk, and one Democrat and one Republican each nominated by their respective parties – using a calculator. No Kentucky voting machine contains a modem – that is not allowed by Kentucky law. In fact, although she voted against it, the Legislature passed a law this session to make it a felony to connect a voting machine to the Internet.
Results that appear on the state’s Election Night Reporting website are UNOFFICIAL. The official results take weeks to process, due to the multiple stages of review – by the county board of elections, by my Office, and by the State Board of Elections.
* We check the tech. Voting machines are tested for accuracy prior to use, at a public event you are able to attend. In fact, a ballot counter has to correctly count over 1 million votes before it is used in an election.
* We’re cleaning up our voter rolls. Since I took office we’ve removed over 125,000 deceased voters from our rolls. Your state senator falsely said in a recent op-ed, “[w]e must reduce our voter registration numbers to below 100% of our population.” In fact, Kentucky has a population of about 4.5 million but voter registration of only about 3.5 million.
* We audit after every election. Your state senator falsely said in a recent op-ed, “nearly every county turns in more votes than voters in most elections.” That is a lie, a dangerously irresponsible one. In fact, our Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, has audited numerous counties and found no evidence of this. Your state senator does not understand that some voters sign electronic poll books and some sign voter roster books; if you combine all voter sign-ins, the numbers match.
* Hand-counting every ballot would lead to mass fraud. Your state senator has attempted to pass legislation to require every ballot to be counted by hand, but fortunately her colleagues in the Legislature have not found her to be persuasive. We used to hand-count ballots, in the early 1900s. That led to so much fraud and so many mistakes that We the People amended our state constitution by ballot referendum in order to move away from hand-count. Moreover, with hand-count, we would have to wait for weeks to find out results of any election.
* Our voting machines are secure. They are designed to protect against tampering, including during system storage, transport and voting. Each machine uses physical and system access controls, including lockable doors, tamper-evident seals and access codes.
* Your vote is secret. The Kentucky Constitution requires the secrecy of each voter’s ballot. The barcodes on ballots are NOT connected to the voter; rather, they ensure that the scanners recognize the ballot style and contests to be tabulated.
Under my administration, we have enacted Photo ID to Vote, banned ballot harvesting, improved cleanup of our voter rolls, tracked absentee ballots, enhanced voter signature verification, expanded our audit process, provided for video surveillance of voting equipment when not in use, and transitioned our state from electronic voting machines to universal paper ballots, so we get the speed of a quick count and the security of a paper trail. Your state senator opposed every single one of these reforms. Hundreds of state and local officials agree: she is not credible on election issues.
If you have questions about our election process, consult a legitimate source: my Office, the State Board of Elections, your county board of elections, your sheriff, your county clerk, or your precinct poll workers.