FRANKFORT — An effort to let registered independents vote in Republican or Democratic primary elections appears dead for this year's state legislative session.
The House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee voted 5-2 to approve the bill, but it needed six votes to get out of the House committee.
Primary elections are held in May to pick party nominees for general elections in November.
The sponsor of Senate Bill 41, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said he plans to push the proposal again in 2012. He said 32 states have such legislation.
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During committee discussion on the bill, Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, asked Higdon why people who want to vote in a primary simply do not register as Democrat or Republican.
Higdon said some registered independent voters work in the news media or are ministers who want to remain outside a political party but participate in elections.
"This would just give a lot of people the chance to participate," he said, noting that it would affect about 200,000 Kentuckians.
Higdon told the committee his bill would cost each county about $900 and the state about $100,000 to handle more primary voters.
He also said the cost of political campaigns probably would increase as candidates tried to appeal to more voters in primary elections.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, and House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, cast the only votes against the bill.
Owens said it is "a bad bill."
"Every person has the right to register how they choose," Owens said. "The primaries are to advance the parties' agenda to pick the best candidates for their party."
The committee also discussed a resolution proposed by Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, to urge Congress to call a constitutional convention to propose a balanced federal budget amendment.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has a similar resolution in the Senate.
Owens said his committee will not vote on the legislation this session.