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Ky. clerks side with election officials critical of Alison Grimes; Boyle clerk agrees with unanimous decision by state association

By ROBIN HART and PHILLIP M. BAILEY

Advocate-Messenger; Louisville Courier Journal

Boyle County Clerk Trille Bottom agrees with a decision by the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association to show support for Jared Dearing, the state Board of Elections executive director who has recently accused Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of abusing her power.

As reported in the Courier Journal this week, the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association, which represents all 120 clerks who oversee elections at the county level, voted unanimously at its Sept. 20 meeting to “publicly express its confidence” in Dearing and Board of Elections Assistant Director Jennifer Scutchfield.

Bottom said Dearing has “done an awesome job.”

“He’s supportive of county clerks and he’s always there when we need him,” she said.

Dearing was instrumental in having all of Boyle County’s precincts participate in the pilot program for the state’s e-poll books during the primary elections in May, Bottom said.

And, about two weeks before the election, Dearing came here to teach precinct officers how to use the electronic voter sign-in poll books, Bottom said. “He was here to ease anybody’s minds” about how the system would work.

Sixty-two clerks attended the meeting and voted in favor of a letter of support for Dearing, according Bourbon County Clerk Richard Eads, who is the association’s secretary. The letter is addressed to the six-member election board that is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, which Grimes chairs.

The letter says the clerks want to continue working with Dearing and assistant director Jennifer Scutchfield, who the association says “have performed their duties in exemplary fashion.”

Grimes spokesman Bradford Queen said in a statement last Thursday that she is looking forward to working with local officials for a successful general election.

“Secretary Grimes works closely with Kentucky’s county boards of elections, which include our county clerks, and appreciates their confidence in the work of the State Board of Elections,” he said.

The clerk’s association does not mention Grimes by name, but its message arrives at a time when she has a widening rift with the board of elections staff less than 45 days before the fall election. It alludes to that power struggle without specifying any particular issue.

“With the Nov. 6 election quickly approaching, we have concerns that recent board administrative decisions may result in unintended consequences for Kentucky elections,” the letter says.

Queen pointed out how the clerk’s association highlighted in its letter their work with Grimes to roll out of statewide electronic poll books, similar to iPads, for voters to sign-in digitally when they go to vote.

“The secretary is grateful for the continued support of the county boards of elections and the hard work of our clerks’ offices in helping to successfully roll out e-poll books across Kentucky – a project she began three and a half years ago,” he said.