State of Elections

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Tag: Kentucky

Balancing Nonpartisan Judicial Elections with Candidates’ First Amendment Rights in Kentucky


By: Carrie Mattingly

In Kentucky, all state court judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. Kentucky’s Code of Judicial Conduct seeks to keep candidates on nonpartisan message. But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down some judicial campaign restrictions on First Amendment grounds.

One sitting and two aspiring Kentucky judges brought suit to stop the enforcement of these judicial canons against them. Robert A. Winter, Jr. distributed campaign literature identifying himself as a “lifelong Republican,” and he received a letter stating that this literature may have violated the canon prohibiting campaigning “as a member of a political organization.” Judge Allison Jones asked voters to “re-elect” her, even though she was initially appointed to her seat, and pledged to provide stiff penalties for heroin dealers if elected. She also received a letter stating that her “re-elect” statement may have violated the canon prohibiting “false and misleading statements” and that her “stiff penalties” comment may have been an impermissible “commitment” inconsistent with the impartial performance of judicial duties. Finally, Judge Cameron J. Blau wished to give speeches supporting the Republican Party, to hold Republican fundraisers, to seek and receive Republican endorsements, and to donate to candidates and to the party, but he refrained in fear of sanctions.

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Electoral Corruption: When to Set Aside the Results of an Election?

By: Carrie Mattingly

How much evidence of corruption should a court require before setting aside the results of an election? Most would say that any corruption is too much. But in a recent case, Kentucky’s highest court balanced the threat of corruption against the threat of destabilizing election results, concluding that there simply was not enough evidence of corruption to justify vacating the office pending another election.

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Results, Recanvass, Recount

As Kentucky basketball heats up its season against Maryland and Duke on the road,  several campaigns are gearing up for recanvasses and possible recounts.  The 7th Representative District race between Tim Kline and the incumbent, John Arnold, is separated by only 5 votes of the 15,775 cast.  In the 3rd Senatorial District, the vote margin is 297 out of 36,617 cast for either Whitney Westerfield or Joey Pendleton, the incumbent.  Ted Edmonds, the current representative, also ran a narrow race in the 91st Representative District against Gary Herald who leads him by only 134 votes of the 12,530 cast.

It is not clear whether any of the candidates will request a recount, such a decision usually occurs after the completion of a recanvass.  At least two have filed for a recanvass, with Arnold’s race having the most potential for a recount.  There are a number of avenues that can lead to a recount, in Kentucky.  Either a candidate or an election official can trigger the recount process.  Each of these paths have different requirements.  The election-official initiated recount occurs if election officials report errors in administration to the county clerk.  The clerk then must file a petition with the Circuit Court, within 15 days, requesting a recount.  Election officials did not report any substantial election errors in any of the three races, making it unlikely the county clerk will file such a recount petition.  Continue reading

Double Dipping? Kentucky Redistricting Plan Creates Dual District Voting

Every two years voters from around Kentucky flock to their precincts to select their member for the United States House of Representatives. As a result of months of candidates’ television and print ads, most voters know the number of their district. However, this year on November 6th when Kentuckians from Bath, Fleming, Harrison, Nicholas, Robertson, and Scott counties open their ballots they will find candidate choices in two different congressional districts. Their ballots will look similar to this one, in that it will list a special election for the 4th Congressional District and a general election for the 6th Congressional District. Such an election peculiarity is not a print mistake by the State Board of Elections. Rather, the cause of this dual district voting is both Kentucky’s new redistricting plan and Representative Geoff Davis’s resignation from Congress.     Continue reading

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