Training Module 5 - Voter Assistance

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Module 5: What about voters needing assistance, ADA, etc?

(NOTE: for more complete learning, take the time to click the links in the text below, and review the official websites)

ADA and HAVA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines legal accommodations for facility access for disabled persons, and the "Help America Vote Act (HAVA)" sets minimum requirements for voter assistance laws in the states.  Many voters with disabilities will use the mail in absentee ballot method, but every polling place must be able to assist those who have issues with vision, hearing, communication, marking ballots, etc., without violating their privacy or limiting their access to vote. See County accessibility surveys here.

ADA Voting Equipment: The KY Board of Elections has certified equipment to help disabled persons cast their votes without human assistance. The HB574 voting law says that voting equipment must "be accessible for individuals with impairments, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind or visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, as for other voters."  Voting on such assistive equipment without human assistance marking the ballot is the first choice for many disabled voters to preserve their privacy.

Voter Assistance Form: Any person helping a voter complete their ballot MUST fill out SBE 31, a Voter Assistance Form.  Disabled voters may have a permanent designation of "PA" (permanent assistance) in the pollbook so that they do not have to sign the form each election, but the assisting person ALWAYS has to sign the oath, even though it may be regarded as cumbersome and annoying by some.

Note that the person signing under oath must certify that they are only marking the voter's choices, and are not the voter's employer, or an agent of their employer or union. These forms are turned over to the Grand Jury with the other reports of the election.

Any violations, such as an "assistant" directing or coercing a voter how to mark their ballot must be reported immediately. Even if the voter is not voicing complaint about the "assistant" making or directing ballot choices for them, such practice is exploiting the voter and is illegal.  No one (other than a minor child) can enter the booth with a voter without completing a legal oath with the Voter Assistance Form. 

In some precincts, enforcement of this law has been lax, leading to lawbreaking individuals directing multiple voters on how to mark their ballots for a particular candidate or party. Prevention of fraud of this nature requires diligent observation and reporting of violations, even when such reporting may draw hostility from those officers running the local polling place.  

Care must be exercised to ensure that any issue or violation reported is about the person illegally providing "assistance" without completing the oath, and not the potentially disabled voter who is receiving assistance.  Coercion of voters is illegal. The rights, dignity, and privacy of disabled voters must be respected.

Action Steps:

  1. Become familiar with the ADA and HAVA voting methods for disabled voters your county in 2022.
  2. Ensure that the current Voter Assistance Forms are available and in-use on election day.
  3. If you are working the polls on election day, be alert for any persons attempting to help a voter mark a ballot without completing the Voter Assistance Form and oath, and report it to the local election authorities. 
  4. Contact your AFEIKY coordinator with any unusual findings, or any additional information that should be in this training.

End of Module.  Thanks for learning and being engaged!

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Training Module 4 - Legal Voting Equipment

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Module 4: What equipment is legal to vote on?

(NOTE: for more complete learning, take the time to click the links in the text below, and review the official websites)

HAVA: After the Bush-Gore "hanging chad" voting fiasco in Florida in 2000, the "Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed in 2002, setting minimum requirements for voting laws and equipment in the states, and providing some federal funding for equipment. 

Since 2002, the KY State Board of Elections has certified voting equipment able to be used in the Commonwealth. 

Every County has the responsibility to procure and maintain their own voting equipment, so there a number of variations of equipment out there - with many counties having multiple types of machines, and  various ages of equipment: County Voting Equipment List   There is value in identifying what equipment your County has, and any plans to upgrade it before 2022.  Observers should become technically familiar with the workings of the equipment. 

New Equipment: Under the newly passed voting law, HB 574, any new voting equipment purchased must use or produce a human-readable paper ballot that can be verified by the voter and hand audited or recounted later.  About 20% of the old machines in the state are not up to date with this rule, but every County has the ability to use paper ballots on at least some of their machines.  [NOTE: AFIEKY recommends that you ALWAYS request a paper ballot, and encourage your friends to do so.  Votes recorded on an electronic "DRE" voting machine can never be audited or re-counted if there is a dispute.]

Voter Check-In: Many counties now use an iPad based system to verify and check in voters and issue them a ballot.  These iPads are connected electronically to the County voter rolls, and can scan codes on state IDs to look up a voter.  They are helpful, but not infallible - human oversight is still required. The new law HB 574 requires procedures to detect if a voter is attempting to vote more than once, for instance absentee and in-person, or to vote twice in person.  If a voter is identified with an ID as being on the voter rolls, they are issued a ballot. 

Ballot Marking: the simplest and most secure way to vote is with a paper ballot, hand marked by the voter.  ("it's hard to hack a pencil").  Some locations will use a machine that allows on-screen selections and prints out a durable paper ballot for the voter to verify and scan - these machines are legal in KY, but most voters feel more comfortable with old-fashioned hand-marked paper.  These type of "Voter Verified Paper (VVP)" machines reduce the need for pre-printed paper ballots and may be convenient for the election operation, but any electronic system is potentially vulnerable to hacking and manipulation. 

Legislation has been proposed for 2022 to make it illegal for any of these machines to be connected to the internet on election day.

ADA Ballot Marking: One of the HAVA requirements is that equipment must be available to assist elderly and disabled voters (under ADA) who have limited ability to read or mark their ballot choices.  Each polling place must have an assistive voting machine for these special needs.  The machine allows the voter to make selections electronically, and records the votes either electronically or on a printed-out ballot.  Other voters are allowed to use the ADA-compliant machine, but few do. Many of these machines are older, and are challenging for the poll workers to set up and keep operational. 

Ballot Scanning/Tabulation: paper ballots are taken by the voter to another machine that scans and tabulates the ballots, and checks for errors, double marks, etc.  The scanner will indicate if the ballot is scanned successfully, and the paper ballot is to be securely stored for audit and recount use if needed.  

  • Many counties use a USB "thumb drive" to transfer vote tallies from the scanner to the central county tabulation computer. The correct procedure is to use only a brand new thumb drive, and discard it after one use to avoid potential malware being transferred back to the scanner, but this procedure is not 100% enforced.  There is no legal reason for anyone to be inserting or removing thumb drives from these machines while the polls are still open. 
  • Legislation has been proposed for 2022 to make it illegal for any of these machines to be connected to the internet on election day.  The concern is that a hacker or malign actor could alter vote totals at the scanner source, making it hard to detect.  The new law HB 574 requires that machine audit logs be made available as a public record.
  • The "register tape" output of the scanner is a certified permanent record of vote totals at the end of election day.  This total can be easily verified by hand counting the paper ballots stored with that scanner if needed.

Action Steps:

  1. Become familiar with the current and planned voting equipment for your county in 2022, and learn how it works.
  2. Be sure to express your preference for hand-marked paper ballots when voting.
  3. If you are working the polls on election day, be alert for any signs of a vote marking or ballot scanning machine being connected to the internet or a USB drive during the election day, and report any findings to the proper authorities.  Document any irregularities.  Encourage your legislator to make it illegal to connect voting equipment to the internet.
  4. Contact your AFEIKY coordinator with any unusual findings, or any additional information that should be in this training.

End of Module.  Thanks for learning and being engaged!

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Training Module 3 - Voter ID

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Module 3: What ID is required to vote?

(NOTE: for more complete learning, take the time to click the links in the text below, and review the official websites)

New Voter ID Law - Since July 15, 2020, a photo ID to vote is required to vote in Kentucky.

A valid photo ID to vote is a document issued by one of these:

  • The United States or the Commonwealth of Kentucky;
  • The United States Department of Defense, a branch of the uniformed services, the Merchant Marine, or the Kentucky National Guard;
  • A public or private college, university, or postgraduate technical or professional school located within the United States;
  • A city government, county government, urban-county government, charter county government, consolidated local government, or unified local government, which is located within Kentucky.

The most common form of a valid photo ID is a driver’s license. Other examples of acceptable IDs (as long as they include the voter’s name and photo) are a U.S. passport, Military ID, College ID, or Kentucky government ID.

What if the voter doesn’t have a photo ID?

Voters who cannot obtain a photo ID can sign a Voter Affirmation Form SBE71 (under penalties of perjury for false statements) and present one of the following non-photo IDs:

  • Social Security Card;
  • Any ID issued by a county that’s been approved by the State Board of Elections and shows voter’s name;
  • Any ID card with both the voter’s photograph and name;
  • Any food stamp ID card, electronic benefit transfer card, or supplemental nutrition assistance card issued by Kentucky that shows voter’s name;
  • A credit or debit card that shows voter’s name. 

If none of these identifications are available, (should be a rare case) a voter’s identity still can be confirmed by personal acquaintance with an Election Officer, but now the Election Officer must complete an Election Official Affirmation Form SBE 72, also under penalties of perjury for false statements. “Personally known” means that the Election Officer knows the voter and that the voter is a resident of the County.

Action Steps:

  1. Become familiar with the official definition of Voter ID above. Administrative regulations will detail this process before 2022, and will be part of the official election worker training, so expect an update. Official SBE 71 and SBE 72 forms will be provided on election day.
  2. Make sure you and your family members have proper ID on election day.
  3. If you are working the polls on election day, be alert  for any voter NOT showing Photo ID who also does not complete the required oath forms, and alert the appropriate officials immediately.  This is the weakest point in the Voter ID system - it is up to alert and honest election officials enforcing the ID rule on each and every voter, and getting signed forms under penalties of perjury for every exception.  Exceptions should be rare.
  4. Contact your AFEIKY coordinator with any unusual findings, or any additional information that should be in this training.

End of Module.  Thanks for learning and being engaged!

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Training Module 1 - who can legally be on the voter rolls?

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Module 1: Who can legally be on the voter rolls?

(NOTE: for more complete learning, take the time to click the links in the text below, and review the official websites)

The County Clerk, Secretary of State, and KY Board of Elections maintain the official voter rolls.  In most cases, when people update their driver's license for address changes, etc., the voter rolls are updated.  

People should NOT be on the Kentucky voter rolls if:

  • the are not alive (seems obvious, but somehow dead people have managed to vote in the past)  
  • They are not US Citizens (some non-citizens may have government identification like a social security number, but they cannot be registered to vote legally)
  • They are not Kentucky residents (those who move away should be removed from the polls when they get a driver's license in a new state, but it does not always happen)
  • They are not of legal age (18 by November election day in KY)
  • They are convicted felons who have lost their voting rights (there is a path to restoration of rights for some felons)
  • They have been judged "mentally incompetent" in a court of law
  • They are "multi-voters" - for instance, college students should not be able to vote in both their home precinct AND their college address in another state

Registering to Vote: Can be done online or with a card.

  • Social Security number and date of birth are required to register. 
  • Driver's License number (or an approved alternate) is required to provide electronic record of your signature to compare to future voting documents.  If you sign a registration card in person, that signature goes on record.
  • To vote in an election in KY, you must be registered 30 days in advance of the election.
  • WARNING: Per KRS 119.025, any person who causes himself to be registered when he is not legally entitled to register, shall be subject to penalties including fines and/or a term of imprisonment not less than one (1) year nor more than (5) years.
  • Registration FAQ from the KY Board of Elections
  • Registration statistics link

Action Steps:

  1. Become familiar with the official websites linked above and voter registration laws.
  2. Make sure you and your family members are properly registered - it is easy to update online.
  3. Check the registration status of people you know who might have died, moved, or otherwise become ineligible to vote on this Board of Elections website .  It requires only a name and date of birth to search.  You may be surprised how easy it is to find someone who should not still be on the rolls - some counties have more registered voters than they have population!  Report discrepancies to the County Clerk for resolution, they will follow the legal process to remove someone.  
  4. Contact your AFEIKY coordinator with any unusual findings, or any additional information that should be in this training.

End of Module.  Thanks for learning and being engaged!

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Training Module 2 - When can people vote, absentee and in person?

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Module 2: When can people vote, absentee and in person?

(NOTE: for more complete learning, take the time to click the links in the text below, and review the official websites)

In-Person Absentee Voting:

HB 574 creates the opportunity for registered voters to vote early, no excuse required, in person, with an ID, at one or more County Clerk designated locations on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the Tuesday Election Day.  This in-person voting is in a secure environment, and will actually reduce the need for mail-in absentee ballots.  Check with your County Clerk for plans in your county. (page 29)

Mail-in Absentee Voting:

A legal excuse (page 27-8) is required to obtain a mail-in absentee ballot voting:

  • Being out of town or being required to work out of the county on ALL hours of the 4 in-person absentee voting days
  • Temporary out of state residence (students and military, etc)
  • Medical/mental disability preventing in-person voting
  • There is no mass-mailing of paper ballots - all mail-in ballots must be requested by the voter or their authorized caregiver (page 26 & 29) at the Secretary of State  secure online portal, with ID, or by a signed paper application.
  • Signatures must be verified or "cured" by election officials prior to close of the polls on election day for the ballot to be counted.
  • "Ballot harvesting" (individuals collecting and dropping off multiple ballots for others) is now strictly prohibited, only authorized persons may handle a mail-in ballot, and drop it in one of the secure county drop box locations (page 12 & 36).

Action Steps:

  1. Become familiar with the official websites linked above and voting laws.  Administrative regulations will detail this process before 2022, and will be part of the official election worker training, so expect an update.
  2. Make sure you and your family members are properly registered - it is easy to update online.
  3. Check with your County Clerk for absentee voting plans for the 2022 election (they may not have answers until early next year)
  4. Contact your AFEIKY coordinator with any unusual findings, or any additional information that should be in this training.

End of Module.  Thanks for learning and being engaged!

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