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The Election Run-Up: Kentucky registrations surge, former secretary of state talks election protections

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Timothy D. Easley/AP
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FR43398 AP
Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny looks over the printouts from the voting machines during the remcanvass of the results from the election for Kentucky Governor in Lawrenceburg, Ky., Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Election officials across Kentucky have started double-checking vote totals that show Republican Gov. Matt Bevin trailing Democrat Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

While Secretary of State Michael Adams is now sounding less worried about interruptions to the upcoming midterms, the run-up to next week's elections hasn't been as smooth as one might have hoped.

This year, state election officials have encountered a number of unusual challenges — ranging from the loss or retirement of a number of county clerks, some of whom cited stress as the reason for leaving the job early, to a deluge of information requests driven by election misinformation and disinformation.

As for the information requests, former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, told a Center for American Progress webinar that the problem was widespread.

"Kentucky, Pennsylvania, every other state in the country were bombarded with open records requests a few weeks ago from folks who still believe that the 2020 election was stolen — falsely to be clear — and the reason for that was the timing that we have to keep election records for about 22 months."
Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson

Grayson said, while some of the requests were likely from people who were "well-intentioned, just misguided," others were "bad actors." And the flood of requests interfered with planning for the upcoming midterms.

In the meantime, there was a late-breaking surge in voter registrations. Compared with August, September and the beginning of October saw double the number of voters sign up. Secretary of State Michael Adams told WLEX the group that saw the largest increase wasn't Republicans or Democrats.

"There's been a surge in independent voters," Adams said. "Of those, 45% are young voters."

The bigger question: Will they show up, and will they turn the tide on any races? On those counts, election observers are more skeptical — but Election Day is still a week away.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.