LOUISVILLE- Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says her office is still reviewing what legal action to take over a new law stripping her of power of elections.
Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, signed House Bill 114 into law Tuesday, hours before a State Board of Elections meeting. The measure limits several aspects of the Secretary of State's rule over the board of elections, including removing them as Chair of the board, and taking away their voting power. The law also limits access to the voter registration database by the secretary of state's office and makes it a misdemeanor to improperly access and misuse the voter database system. It also changes the makeup of the board by adding two retired county clerks to the board of elections.
"The hope is we will be able to review the bill and take whatever legal action necessary to ensure that our elections are free and fair," she said. "And most importantly, what Kentuckians voted on, a Secretary of State watching over their elections continues to occur not only during my tenure but for future Secretary of State's."
The reviewing of the law is why she says her seat was left empty at the most recent State Board of Elections meeting Tuesday.
"We had just received the bill to be honest, knowing that it was signed into law, reviewing it to see the implications," Grimes said. "But the job I have, the duties that I have of my office were fulfilled as my assistant secretary of state delivered the vote totals so that the certification could move forward should enough members be there to make sure that the new state senator was able to be seated."
Grimes asserts this is nothing but a power grab by Gov. Bevin and the GOP majority.
"It's a bill that is just plain bad policy, something that is not good for Kentucky. Not good for this commonwealth," she said ."We don't need one individual appointing individuals to a board of elections controlling our entire election process."
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, the sponsor of the bill says this has nothing to do with gaining power, instead says it's about keeping individuals from misusing their power.
"I think it sends a strong message to all secretary of state candidates that we are not going to let the kind of abuse and shenanigans occur under the next secretary of state's administration that occurred under this one," he said last week.
Grimes is not sure when, or what kind of, legal action will be taken but says her office hopes to have a decision soon as the primary election is just months away.
Republican Secretary of State candidate Carl Nett, who's had his own issues with Grimes, told the Courier-Journal he doesn’t support this legislation, and thinks its reactionary.