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Grayson Asks Governor For Help With Possible Runoff Election

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Secretary of State Trey Grayson has asked the governor to consider ways to help cash-strapped counties across the state cover the costs of administering a runoff election this
June.
Grayson sent Gov. Ernie Fletcher a letter Thursday asking him to
deal with the possible runoff election that could follow the May 22
primary. Otherwise, counties would have to pay about $1,800 per
precinct, and the combined cost to local governments could cost
between $5 million to $7 million.
"The situation requires immediate attention," Grayson said in
his letter to the governor.
State lawmakers in the General Assembly adjourned Tuesday night
without addressing the runoff election possibility. The state
Senate endorsed a plan that would have abolished the runoff, while
the House supported funding it. No action left the runoff intact.
Seven Democrats and three Republicans are seeking their parties'
nominations in the May 22 primary. A runoff election would be held
in late June if a candidate in either race does not get at least 40
percent of the vote.
Grayson, the state's top election official, said there is a
"real possibility" that the state would have a runoff election
this year because of the number of candidates involved.
In his letter, Grayson said Fletcher has two options: have the
General Assembly deal with it in a special session or determine if
the state may pay the counties' share of administering the
election.
Fletcher is facing re-election opposition in the GOP primary
from former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and Paducah businessman Billy
Harper.
The candidates seeking the Democratic nod include former Lt.
Govs. Steve Beshear and Steve Henry, Lexington attorney Gatewood
Galbraith, demolition contractor Otis Hensley, Louisville
businessman Bruce Lunsford, state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and
House Speaker Jody Richards.
Kentucky has not held the runoff in its current form.
But runoff elections typically have "abysmal" voter turnout,
which could lead to a candidate winning it with fewer votes than
the candidate who performed best in the primary, Grayson said.
The short turnaround period of five weeks between the primary
and the runoff would also pose an administrative problem for
election officials across the state, Grayson said.
"Most of our counties have depleted funds and will be forced to
choose between funding an election and funding other important and
necessary services," Grayson said.
Fletcher said he was considering "all avenues" including
spending the money as a "necessary government expense" or calling
the legislature into a special session.
On Wednesday, the State Board of Elections approved a plan aimed
at ensuring military personnel and people living overseas would
have a chance to vote in the runoff.
Owen County Judge-Executive Billy O'Banion, said a runoff would
cost his county about $20,000 and be a "real burden both
financially and physically." The majority of county officials
across the state would likely accept a plan that gave them state
funds to cover the runoff's administrative costs, O'Banion said.
"This is an expense that we're going to have to figure out how
to pay for and if Governor Fletcher could legally do that, I
wouldn't turn it down," O'Banion said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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