FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' efforts to allow online voter registration in Kentucky kept moving through the legislative process Tuesday, though one lawmaker tried to derail it.
State Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, tried to get his colleagues on the legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee to declare deficient a new state regulation allowing online voter registration.
But his request died on a 4-3 vote on the regulation, proposed by the Kentucky State Board of Elections. The legislature's State Government Committee will review the regulation at its next meeting in a few weeks.
If that panel signs off on it, the regulation would take effect in several months.
Harris voiced opposition to the regulation adopted unanimously earlier this year by the bipartisan State Board of Elections, which Grimes chairs as the state's chief election official.
Grimes, a Democrat from Lexington, is seeking re-election this year in a race against Republican Steve Knipper of Independence.
Harris expressed concerns about online security and said the Kentucky County Clerks Association opposes the regulation.
Neither Bill May, executive director of the clerks association, nor the group's president, Lawrence County Clerk Chris Jobe, was immediately available for comment.
Matthew Selph, assistant director of the State Board of Elections, told the legislative committee Tuesday that 27 other states have online voter registration and have had no security problems.
He said the change would save county clerks an estimated $100,000 a year.
Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, testifying with Selph, said online voter registration would be "quite cost-effective" for her office.
In a statement, Grimes said the state has had "tremendous success" with electronic registration for Kentucky military and overseas voters.
"If it can work in Iraq, it can work for our voters in Inez," Grimes said. "More than half the states already allow electronic voter registration and I am proud to lead the effort to implement it here."
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, called the regulation " a great idea" that would display the legislature's "fiscal conservatism."
The regulation would establish procedures for the use of an electronic voter registration system to register, reregister or update voter registration information at no cost to the public.
The elections board expects the system will cost about $45,000 to implement. Money for it will come from the federal Help America Vote Act Fund.
The board will train county clerks on how to use the system, at no cost to them.
The legislature's regulations panel also signed off Tuesday on a regulation that expands bear hunting in Kentucky. The change is opposed by the U.S. Humane Society.
The regulation proposed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources would permit 35 bears to be killed each year, with a limit on female bears.
Also, the area in which those bears can be hunted would increase by more than 20 percent.
Steven Dobey, fish and wildlife's statewide bear coordinator, said a 2013 survey showed about 500 to 700 bears in Kentucky. He said that number has grown in the last few years.
Kathryn Callahan, Kentucky state director for the Humane Society of the United States, read a letter opposing the regulation.
She said no other state with such a small population of bears permits a hunt.
Doug Morgan, president of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association, said fish and wildlife has done "a tremendous job" in regulating Kentucky's population of elk, deer and wild turkey and will do the same with bear.
The bear regulation now must be reviewed by a subcommittee of the legislature's Natural Resources Committee before taking effect.
The regulations committee deferred considering proposed regulations that would allow digital LED billboards throughout the state and let billboard owners cut trees on public rights of way that block visibility of their outdoor advertisements.
Environmental groups oppose the regulations.