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Soldiers Win Victory In Ky. Election Case

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Soldiers deployed overseas will get an additional month to cast absentee ballots in three special elections this fall in Kentucky.Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes sued earlier this month to request more time for soldiers to return absentee ballots so they can be counted in the special elections set for Nov. 6.

Without the additional times, military personnel may not have gotten a say in some of their political races back home.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd approved an agreed order Tuesday that gives soldiers the extra time they need to vote in the special 4th District congressional race between Republican Thomas Massie and Democrat Bill Adkins, as well as two special state legislative races.

"Kentuckians who risk their lives on the battlefield must have their voices protected at the ballot box, and I'm relieved that under the court's decision the rights of our men and women in uniform will not be compromised," Grimes said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The deadline for candidates to file in the special elections had been 28 days before the vote. That didn't allow sufficient time for absentee ballots to be mailed and returned. Shepherd's ruling sets Sept. 10 as the new candidate filing deadline, allowing 57 days for soldiers to receive and return ballots.

The ruling affects about 200 military personnel and other Kentuckians working overseas. The special elections will elect a 4th District congressman, a 19th District state senator and a 2nd District state representative who will serve until January.

Gov. Steve Beshear set dates of the special elections to coincide with the regular Nov. 6 general election to save money. Having held the elections on a separate day would have cost as much as $500,000.

The case was an easy one for Grimes. She was represented in court by one of her staff attorneys, Lynn Sowards Zellen, who made a compelling courtroom argument in the initial hearing.

"It is unconscionable to exclude from the democratic process the men and women who are risking their lives to protect it," Zellen said in the hearing.

Several county clerks intervened in the case, siding with Grimes.

In Louisville, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw said she joined the lawsuit because she considered it vital that the voting rights of military personnel are protected "because they're fighting to protect our freedom."

"That was our first concern," she said.