Incorporating her more than six terms as Jefferson County Clerk into insight for Kentucky’s future, Bobbie Holsclaw addressed the Interim Joint Committee on State Government at the Kentucky State Fair on August 24, 2023. She presented state lawmakers with actionable items that work to improve public service and can be implemented across all 120 of Kentucky’s County Clerk’s Offices.
In terms of voting and elections, Holsclaw showcased how previous accomplishments could translate into future common practices across the Commonwealth. The successful implementation of Vote Centers during the unprecedented challenges the 2020 election showed that an idea more than a decade in discussion could be put into practice. By consolidating precinct polling into a few or one centralized voting location, elections require fewer workers and ballots can be printed on demand. This saves taxpayer money and minimizes elements that can lead to unforced errors. A centralized location can help counties large and small simplify their efforts to find polling locations, efforts often plagued by issues regarding parking and the availability of locations that can serve as polling places. Vote centers, combined with the additional speediness offered by the most advanced e-poll books that can automatically call up and print a voter’s ballot on demand, not only minimize stress for voters but also increase efficiency on Election Day. Vote Centers can also allow the places that let voters cast their ballots during the in-person excused and no-excuse absentee (early) voting period to be used again on Election Day, instead of Election Day voting incorporating up to several hundred precinct polling locations.
Holsclaw also highlighted the legislative need for additional legal clarity, and other points of consideration for future lawmaking opportunities, to help clerks better acquire polling places for elections. She noted that additional language would help clarify that “voting places” under the law extends to early voting sites, not just Election Day polling locations, and help get extended cooperation in using schools and government centers as polling sites. She also highlighted ongoing challenges with finding properties where the current conditions meet ADA legal requirements, and the ongoing reluctance for private facilities to accommodate voting.
Regarding electronic record keeping and online records efforts, Holsclaw noted that instead of an expected $25 million appropriation, KDLA grants were disbursed to help establish online records. However, clerks have noted that the KDLA process can be troublesome, and Holsclaw asked lawmakers for a simplified way to pay for vendors that complies with the law.
The most common services the public requests from county clerks involves motor vehicles transactions, particularly registration renewal. However, Holsclaw shared the current AVIS system has been online since the 1970s and is no longer reliable. The replacement that’s been in the works for 24 years, KAVIS, has so far proved to be more of a “bare bones” replacement. With a proposal to revise fees to better reflect inflation and support purchasing the next round of technology, Holsclaw recommended consideration of self-service kiosks that can not only handle license plate decals but also driver’s license renewals.
Holsclaw’s highlights showcased the potentials and possibilities clerk’s offices can deliver on in the coming years, with the advocacy and support of the state, and the bright future that could be ahead for Kentucky’s communities.