Politics & Government

Grimes proposes letting overseas troops vote by email

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes proposed Wednesday that Kentucky soldiers who are overseas be allowed to vote by email.

Her plan was endorsed immediately by Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda that attracted dozens of veterans.

Williams, R-Burkesville, said he would make Grimes' recommendation Senate Bill 1 in the 2013 General Assembly and urge the chamber to pass it quickly. Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the proposal "will receive a very good reception in the House."

Grimes was one of five secretaries of state from across the country who were in the Middle East last week to help the military with voting procedures.

She said soldiers should be allowed to return absentee ballots by email instead of using the U.S. Postal Service. Email would be a quicker and more secure way for soldiers to vote, she said.

She noted that military voters often are on the move and sometimes find it impossible to receive, fill out and return ballots in a timely manner under current laws.

Grimes said 15 states have or soon will offer online voter registration for soldiers deployed overseas, and 24 states allow voting by email or the Internet.

Heather French Henry, a former Miss America who is an advocate for veterans, spoke in favor of Grimes' proposal.

"Of all the eligible citizens we have in the United States, our military members should have the highest priority when it comes to eligibility and availability to vote," she said.

During the 2008 general election, Kentucky county clerks sent absentee ballots to more than 4,700 military members, with about 76 percent returned. In comparison, nearly 90 percent of overseas Kentucky citizens who were sent absentee ballots returned theirs.