Kentucky leads nation in implementing National Voter Registration Act


Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes recently shared Kentucky’s standard-setting voter registration practices with secretaries of state from across the country at the National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference in Portland, Maine.

“Thanks to continued commitment by and communication among state agencies, Kentucky truly is leading the way in implementing the tenets of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act,” said Grimes. “Our efforts are helping to fulfill the Act’s purpose of enhancing voter registration opportunities, making sure our elections are accessible to all eligible voters. I’m proud to share our practices with other election officials and hope our experience helps them as they continue to hone their own voter registration systems.”

In 1973 Kentucky became one of the first four states to implement a centralized statewide voter registration system. The system was updated in 1985 and underwent a major overhaul in 1995 to provide electronic data sharing with driver’s licensing and public assistance agencies following the enactment of the National Voter Registration Act in 1993.

Most recently, in 2014 Grimes oversaw a redesign of Kentucky’s voter registration system to streamline applications and make it more user-friendly for county clerks. The modernization of the system was completed internally, resulting in an estimated savings to taxpayers of approximately $2 million.

“The implementation of the VRS has saved my staff time and my office money,” said Boyle County Clerk Trille Bottom, “and thanks to the training opportunities and free communication Secretary Grimes provided, the transition from our old system was seamless.”

Even now, more than two decades after the NVRA was passed and Kentucky began offering fully electronic voter registration through motor vehicle agencies, it remains one of only 30 states that does so. The success of Kentucky’s system is evident in the consistent increases in the rate of voter registration through driver’s licensing and public assistance agencies, with the majority of applications made through driver’s licensing.

“Kentucky truly is leading the way in modernizing and optimizing voter registration,” said Grimes. “I look forward to continuing to work with other agencies, county clerks, and the General Assembly to make even greater advancements so that all Kentuckians have an opportunity to participate in our elections.”

Grimes is Southern Region Vice President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, which is the nation’s oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials. It fosters sharing of information and cooperation in developing public policy, particularly with respect to elections and voting and state business services.

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