Amendment would move elections for Constitutional officers to same as presidential elections

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, January 11, 2024

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A proposed Constitutional Amendment to move the election of Kentucky’s Constitutional officers to the same year as Presidential elections, cleared the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Ryland Heights, would move the elections of the Governor and Lt. Governor slate, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and  Agriculture Commissioner, to even-numbered years, starting in 2032.

“This will dramatically increase the number of voters who participate in a Constitutional election year, and also save the Commonwealth nearly $2 million and counties over $15 million,” McDaniel testified.

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“Talk to the average voter in Kentucky, who, mind you, is not a voter first, but instead are fathers and mothers,” he said. “They have professions like manufacturing and teaching, and generally, those who quite frankly don’t love constantly hearing about politicians. Ask them if they’d enjoy a year free from political ads interrupting the Kentucky basketball game, Monday night football, or whatever program they are trying to enjoy during their time off and, most importantly, with their families.”

He also said it would eliminate voter fatigue.

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-Louisville, noted that electing Constitutional officers in non-federal election years has been in effect since the adoption of the 1851 Kentucky Constitution, to separate them from national issues.

“I think the need for that has increased over time, in the 176 years since we’ve been doing it this way, as opposed to decrease,” she stated.  “Nowadays with national division, Presidential elections lasting for years and eating up the airwaves, I think it’s really important that the people of Kentucky have space to focus on Kentucky issues, and issues that impact us in the Commonwealth.”

In the end, the bill passed 7-1, with Chambers Armstrong casting the lone “no” vote.  If the proposal passes both chambers, it would still require a majority vote by Kentuckians at the November General Election.

The committee also approved on a unanimous vote, House Bill 161. It says that counties who have been late in enacting reapportionment plans, some of which have still not been finalized, should have no impact on filings of candidates, just because a precinct name or number may have changed.

Both bills now head to the Senate floor.