Legislation on election security clears Senate Committee

Legislative Research Commission says committee approved about a half dozen changes to state law.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Senate State and Local Government Committee approved legislation Thursday that aims to strengthen the security of elections in Kentucky through about a half dozen changes to state law.

According to the Legislative Research Commission (LRC), Senate Bill 216 would require all voting machines to be backed up by paper ballots by 2024 and prevent the use of credit and debit cards as an alternate form of ID to vote. It would also prohibit voting equipment from connecting to any external device or network, including the internet.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Robby Mills, (R) Henderson, said the network provision has appeared in several election bills over the past few years.

“It’s never made it across the finish line,” said Mills. “I think it’s very important as far as confidence goes, and there’s a lot of, still a lot of, people out there that are concerned about that particular issue.”

On the ID provision, Mills said, according to the secretary of state’s office, credit or debit cards were used as a form of ID 167 times out of nearly 3 million voters in 2020.

“So, a very small use, alternate form of ID that I think needs to be removed from our ID list,” Mills said.

According to the LRC, another provision would require voting equipment and ballot boxes to remain secured, locked and under video surveillance for 30 days after an election.

SB 216 would also place the secretary of state as chair of the state board of elections and change a filing requirement for candidates to one annual report for years when they’re not on the ballot, according to the LRC.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, (R) Georgetown, said that for about the past three decades, office holders filed an annual report in years without elections. However, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance changed the requirement to quarterly reports in the past year, he said.

“This amendment takes it back to the way it’s been for 25 or 30 years and will quite clearly state the legislative intent,” Thayer said. “The normal reporting process will be in place during years in which a candidate is on the ballot and up for reelection.”

The bill was approved with a 7-1 vote and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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