Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The House is leaning toward keeping the runoff election for the governor's race but providing counties with state funds to pay for it, several key lawmakers said Monday. "It is somewhat split, but not to the level that it was," said Rep. Charlie Hoffman, Democratic caucus chairman. "From what I've heard, the growing stance seems to be in the realm of keeping it and funding it."

The runoff provision, a leftover measure from election reforms of 1992, would kick in after the May 22 primary if no candidate for governor in a party received at least 40 percent of the vote. The runoff, which at the earliest would occur June 26, would allow the top two finishers in a party's primary to square off.

A majority of Democratic lawmakers now seems to prefer a proposal that would provide $5 million in state funds to cover the costs to the 120 counties of holding that special election, Hoffman said. Rep. Rick Nelson, a Middlesboro Democrat, has sponsored both bills that address the issue. House Bill 224 would eliminate it and HB 476 would provide state funding for any runoffs. The House Elections Committee approved the two measures last week. Hoffman said he expects both bills will be considered on the House floor "within the next 24 hours."

Nelson said he, too, thinks his proposal to allow the state to shell out the $5 million from its emergency "necessary governmental expenses" fund to pay for the runoff is the more likely bill to pass now. He said the county clerks still would prefer to get rid of the runoff, but their biggest concerns are relieved if the state covers the costs of setting up voting machines and paying poll workers. "I, personally, would be OK with that," Nelson said. "I don't think we need to change course in the middle of the game" by eliminating the runoff.

Other lawmakers have raised concerns that, if the runoff is thrown out, a candidate who finishes second could sue the state. Rep. Bob DeWeese, Republican House caucus chairman, said that, as long as the counties don't have to cover the costs, GOP lawmakers will be happy. He added that it's probably more fair to the three Republican candidates and seven Democratic hopefuls to keep the runoff. "That way nobody can say you messed with the election," he said.

Congratulations Frankfort. Instead of mid-contest alterations, politicians have chosen to respect their rules. Their compensation decision is excellent. In lieu of funding as a convenient excuse, they addressed the problem. For the aforesaid, they should be applauded.

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