Barren County Board of Elections members John Robert Miller, the Republican commissioner; Pat Scott, the Democratic commissioner; and Helena Chase Birdwell, county clerk, review information and check it against what is on a ballot scanning machine Wednesday as part of the board's monthly meeting. The fourth board member, Sheriff Kent Keen, was also present.

GLASGOW – The Barren County Board of Elections checked all the election machines Wednesday morning during its last monthly meeting before the Nov. 5 general election, and it discussed the issue of an inactive voter list created by the Kentucky Board of Elections.

The elections board convened at the county clerk's office and discussed a few matters there before moving the meeting to a different county facility where the voting machines are stored.

County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell, who chairs the board, said they would be discussing with the poll workers during their “election school” the procedure for voters on the inactive list by the Kentucky Board of Elections staff, emphasizing that the individuals on that list are still eligible to vote – so long as they still meet all the other normal criteria, e.g. residency, not being a convicted felon who hasn't had voting rights restored or the record expunged, etc.

She said the poll workers will be encouraged to call the office if any questions arise so the staff there can help by making sure voters are in the right precinct, etc.

“The news media has really confused a lot of the older people about it,” said Amanda Casteel, the deputy county clerk who serves as elections coordinator. “That's where we're going to educate our precinct workers.”

Birdwell said she thinks a mountain got made out of a molehill on that issue.

“I just want people to be encouraged to still go vote, even if you have the fear whether or not you are or not inactive,” she said.

Casteel added that before election day, voters can call the county clerk's office to double-check that they are still on the voter roll system that can be accessed from the office or they can check their voter registration status on the Kentucky Secretary of State's website at https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/VIC/ .

Birdwell clarified further with the Daily Times after the meeting the situation with the inactive list. The state board sent notices to people who had not voted in the last two federal elections. If they got no response to that, they sent another notice. If they still got no response, those individuals were placed on a list of inactive voters. They are still included in the voter roll, but with an inactive status notation. Their names will not, however, be in the books at the precincts when they go to vote, but even that doesn't mean they can't vote, she said.

“When you go into the polls on Nov. 5, if your name is on that list of inactive voters, then they're going to call us at the county clerk's office, and we're going to confirm your precinct,” Birdwell said.

Provided that “inactive” voters are at the correct precinct, they will be asked to complete a new voter oath card, and after the person has voted that day, the name will be put back into active status, she said.

According to a press release from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, 175,000 Kentuckians were designated as inactive by the staff for the state board.

Also during Wednesday's meeting, Birdwell said the required legal notice showing the sample ballot for Barren County is anticipated to run Oct. 19 in the Glasgow Daily Times, but it can also be found at http://apps.sos.ky.gov/electionballots/ in the meantime.

The “election school,” i.e. training for Barren County's precinct workers, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 21.

In-person absentee voting is available Oct. 22 through Nov. 4 at the county clerk's office at the Barren County Government Center, 117 N. Public Square, Suite 1A.

Birdwell read a Sept. 23 letter from Bennie Scott, the Democratic commissioner for the elections board, requesting a leave of absence from the board for the upcoming elections, stating that “due to unforeseen health issues, I will not be able to perform my duty.” He said he would be able to discuss any needs or issues that arise with the chair of the Barren County Democratic Party.

Birdwell then read a letter to the state board of elections from Ladonna Rogers, who chairs the local Democrats' executive committee, recommending some individuals who could represent the party, and the clerk had also received notification from the executive director for the state board of elections that Scott's wife, Pat Scott, had been appointed and was sworn in Monday, subject to ratification by the state board of elections. Her term started Oct. 2 and is to continue until Bennie Scott notifies the state board he is able to resume his duties, Birdwell said, before formally welcoming Pat Scott to the group.

The Barren County Board of Elections' next meeting is at 5 a.m. on Election Day.

From there, the group dispersed and regathered at the voting machine storage location.


Sheriff Kent Keen, left, prepares to close a box with voting equipment in it as his fellow members of the Barren County Board of Elections review key pieces of information that must be checked prior to the Nov. 5 general election. Continuing clockwise are Republican Commissioner John Robert Miller, Democratic Commissioner Pat Scott, County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell, all board members, and Deputy County Clerk Amanda Casteel, who serves as elections coordinator.

The machines that are handicapped accessible are stored in two separate portions – a white container and a black plastic case that folds out to make a sort of desk where the person can sit. Each white container was opened and paperwork that had been left in it the last week of September by the Harp Enterprises representative who sets the programming and such on them was removed, and the serial and seal numbers were checked, along with a “protective” number that is meant to detect tampering attempts, and compared to ensure accuracy. The serial numbers on each of the black cases was also checked to ensure it matched with the designated machine in the white box.


Barren County Deputy County Clerk Amanda Casteel, from left, and County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell watch as Tracy Shirley, director of Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management, and Sheriff Kent Keen look through voting machine cases to check their serial numbers to see whether they match what is on the paperwork Casteel has.

The machines through which paper ballots are scanned and vote totals from those produced were checked in a similar manner, and then each member of the board had to initial a paper strip showing the protective number and that the current number of votes on the machine was zero, and the Democratic and Republican commissioners also had to sign another paper for each type of machine verifying the machines had been checked for accuracy and containing other information.

With that done, the meeting adjourned.

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