Election Day updates: AG Coleman talks election integrity

Published 12:14 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Editor’s note: This story will be updated throughout Election Day with updates. 

Tuesday, thousands of Kentuckians will vote in their party’s primary election.

They will vote for their party’s presidential candidate, U.S. House representative, various state senators and representatives and several other local races.

Turnout for primary elections tends to be minimal in the Commonwealth. According to the State Board of Elections, in the past decade, primary turnout has ranged from 12.5% of registered voters in 2015 to 31.1% turnout in 2020, a major presidential election year.

According to Secretary of State Michael Adams, 75,204 Kentuckians voted on one of three no-excuse early voting days this year—21% of registered voters.

That’s a slight increase from the 2023 primaries, when 72,754 Kentuckians took advantage of early voting. Most early voters were Republicans, Adams said.

Adams told Bluegrass Live that in the 2023 general election, fewer than 20% of voters used early voting, but that it typically takes several election cycles for voters to get used to early voting.

A proposed bill that would have eliminated no-excuse early voting died in the state legislature this year.

AG Coleman talks election integrity

Attorney General Russell Coleman (right) talks to media about election integrity efforts on Tuesday, May 21, in Frankfort at the Attorney General’s Election Integrity Command Center.

Tuesday morning, Attorney General Russell Coleman spoke to media at the Attorney General’s Election Integrity Command Center.

About a dozen prosecutors and investigators from the AG’s office, the Department of Criminal Investigations, the FBI and Kentucky State Police answered calls from the election fraud hotline—1-800-328-VOTE.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the center had received 47 calls, 35 before Election Day.

The majority of the dozen Election Day calls involve legal questions, according to call logs. A few involved potential campaign finance violations, while others called in with questions about party identification switches, a voting machine, an election official and an absentee ballot.

Calls came from 26 counties, with allegations of some form of election fraud coming from Scott, Madison, Laurel, Kenton, Jefferson, Franklin, Fayette, Estill, Elliott, Crittenden, Clay, Boyd and Boone counties.

When the center receives a credible allegation, Coleman said it’s referred to Department of Criminal Investigations detectives who work with federal, state and local law enforcement to follow the lead.

In 2022, a hotline tip led to the conviction of 7 individuals for election fraud in Monroe County.

“We want to show Kentuckians that we take election law seriously, election fraud seriously,” Coleman said. “They can have confidence that our elective process is secure, and Kentucky has secure elections because of common sense policies that have been enacted in recent years, such as voter ID.”

While the hotline is meant for fraud allegation, it receives many questions about the voting process. Coleman said the center is happy to help connect voters with their county clerks or the State Board of Elections to answer their questions.

Coleman emphasized joint effort between various law enforcement agencies, the AG’s office,  the Secretary of State’s office and the State Board of Elections. In the past, there have been silos in law enforcement that have hindered effective communication, Coleman said.

“Whether we’re talking about election security, or we’re talking about overdose death or violence in Louisville, the silos within law enforcement oftentimes were our biggest limiting factor,” Coleman said. “That’s not an issue here today and I’m proud of that.”

Candidates share pre-results thoughts

In Edmonson and Warren counties, a high-profile Republican primary between incumbent State Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, and Kelcey Rock is set.

The state house race is one of this primary cycle’s most expensive, with total spending exceeding $103,000, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Meredith has served in the state house since 2011. He’s led efforts to get funding to the Bowling Green veterans nursing home, as well as to legalize sports betting.

Rock is concerned about social issues like DEI and voting security.

Meredith said he feels good about the race Tuesday morning, and is proud of the work his campaign team has done and the race they’ve run.

“I’ve lived in this district all my life,” he said. “It’s a special place because of the people. Many of the voters here have been my friends and neighbors all my life. They know my record, but more than that, they know me personally. I’ve knocked on 1,000 doors across the district myself and my campaign team has hit around 4,000 additional doors and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Rock said that no matter the outcome, his team has worked hard to “help our community be heard.”

“I know this (is) now going to be a very close race,” Rock said. “It’s gotten a lot of attention and there are a lot of eyes watching. All the door knocking polls are making me feel optimistic, especially considering the trend with them has been going in a positive direction. But it’s going to be close.”