Clash Over Secretary Of State's Authority Intensifies

Feb 13, 2019

As a top Senate Republican leads the charge to revoke her authority over the State Board of Elections, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is calling for the release of all voter registration system searches, in a bid to clear her name.

From the left: Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).
Credit Josh James / Associated Press

Dogged by allegations of improper use of voter data and claims that she retaliated against board staff who spoke up, the Democrat released a statement Wednesday urging an across-the-board release of all voter registration system searches.

"Assuming that the State Board of Elections staff, as the press has alleged, can produce verified searches conducted in the Voter Registration System, a system that I created during my tenure pursuant to federal and state law, without compromising Kentucky’s cybersecurity practices and the intellectual property associated with our system – I call for the complete release of all searches, conducted by all members of my staff, the State Board of Elections staff, our 120 county clerks, and their deputies to be immediately released," Grimes writes. "These searches will reflect that my staff have always acted appropriately pursuant to my role as Kentucky's Secretary of State and Chief Election Official."

The move comes on the heels of a legislative push to roll back her authority over the board that oversees state elections. Armed with a Herald-Leader / ProPublica report suggesting Grimes has gained "unprecedented control" over the board, Senate GOP leader Damon Thayer told the Senate State and Local Government Committee it's time for the legislature to act.

"I believe the news that has come out recently is disturbing," the Georgetown Republican said. "And we need to send a message to the voters of this commonwealth as we approach the May primary that this state, under the leadership of the General Assembly, is doing everything it can to protect the integrity of the voter rolls."

Under Senate Bill 34, the secretary would have her access to the rolls blocked and be reduced to a non-voting member of the board.

The bill moved through committee Wednesday afternoon and now heads to the full Senate.