A county clerk in Kentucky is backing legislation aimed at reducing the number of special elections across the 120 counties supporting a measure approved Monday by the House Election, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
The bill would pave the way for local referendums, often wet-dry questions, to be staged on primary or general election dates. Current law in Kentucky prohibits special elections in conjunction with May or November voting. Oldham County Clerk Julie Barr told committee members a special countywide wet-dry referendum last December cost taxpayers $95,000.
“You put the same effort into a special election as you would a general or a primary. It’s the same work, same money, same everything.”
In one local precinct referendum in Oldham County, Barr says 15 people cast ballots out of 653 eligible voters. The bill does allow local referendums outside of traditional election days, but the cost would be borne by petitioners. Barr says that would average about $2,000 per precinct.
Frankfort Representative Derrick Graham believes the change could restrict citizen-driven referendums.
“This is one particular area that citizens can use their citizenship to take the initiative to have a discussion or debate,” he said.