Kentucky judge to hand down ruling on inactive voters

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- A judge is expected to hand down a ruling quickly, following a court hearing on Tuesday, in a lawsuit filed over moving 165,000 registered Kentucky voters to an inactive list.

The suit was filed at Franklin Circuit Court by the Kentucky Democratic Party against the State Board of Elections, and Attorney Anna Whites said while she is representing Kentucky Democrats, “We need to understand that this is really a bi-partisan issue, because voters affected are almost 50-50 Democrat and Republican.”

The State Board of Elections says the list was created due to a consent decree issued in federal court, because of a case brought successfully by the conservative group Judicial Watch, claiming Kentucky had not been purging voter rolls as they should have.

Whites argued that having a second inactive list would have a chilling effect on voters, as those voters on the list would be pulled from the line, made to sign an oath, and possibly have to wait for action by the County Clerk, County Board of Elections or a circuit judge before they could vote.

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate wondered why not place an asterisk by the voter’s name on the master list, rather than be placed on a second one, and Whites says she could go along with that.

“I think that would make sense to me,” she said. “That makes it simple, clear, and that way we have a list of when any political party, any voter, any member of the public, wants a master list of registered voters, that’s the list they get. It makes it complicated when there is a separate form for inactive voters.”

Jared Dearing, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, disagreed, saying it is making up a process that has never existed before. “If we have a process that has been in place for many years, that the poll workers have been trained on for decades, that the voters even understand on some level, that’s the process we should be moving forward with.”

The Civil Rights Division of the U. S. Department of Justice also attended the Monday hearing. Attorney Michell Rupp said they wish to file a friend of the court brief, since a federal consent decree is involved which requires their intervention. “Even though 2019 is not a federal election”, Rupp said, “This affects federal elections.”

Wingate indicated he would hand down an order on Tuesday.

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