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Most secretary of state candidates help the regulation to rein within the energy of present secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Photograph: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal)

A former nationwide magnificence queen with vast identify recognition and a Harvard-educated election lawyer who labored for President George W. Bush. 

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton’s former chief of employees, who was fired by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, and a security specialist who needs to use “Trump” as a nickname on the poll.

The Democrats and Republicans who need to be Kentucky’s next secretary of state have a bunch of ideas about election security and increasing participation.

But the big shadow cast over the race is the move by the Republican-controlled General Assembly this year that stripped embattled Democratic incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes — who is term limited — from her voting powers on the State Board of Elections.

Grimes is facing a series of allegations that she abused her power while in office and is the subject of multiple state investigations. She is fighting the GOP measure in court and her would-be successors view the legislature’s actions largely along partisan lines.

“We should be strengthening the role of the chief election official,” Grimes said in a tweet on Tuesday, “but in (Kentucky) we are diluting the role for partisan gain!”

More: Alison Lundergan Grimes contests Kentucky law removing power over elections board

But there are other boiling Bluegrass debates around the ballot box that the eight candidates also want to push — topics ranging from allowing early voting to purging the voter rolls.

Here is a look at each candidate and what they are emphasizing in their campaigns, and what could define the fall campaign.


Jason Belcher is a candidate for Kentucky Secretary of State (Photo: provided)

Jason Belcher, 48, of Harold is an Air Force veteran who was deployed to Iraq in 2006. He is a business consultant, who also writes military science fiction and contributes to the Huffington Post.

“We can do better than 30% turnout during elections,” Belcher said.

Belcher wants automatic voter registration, early voting and same-day registration. He also favors electronic voting and restoration of felon voting rights.

In terms of the new law that made Grimes a nonvoting member of the election board, he opposes that effort.

Campaign finance records show that he has raised roughly $5,900.

Jason Griffith is a candidate for Kentucky Secretary of State. (Photo: provided)

Jason Griffith, 47, of Whitesburg is band director at Letcher County High School and owns a small information technology business.

Griffith favors automatic voter registration, restoring felon voting rights and fewer restrictions on absentee voting. He also wants to have longer voting hours on Election Day, which he has said may mean allowing Kentuckians to vote over multiple days.

“In the age of the internet, cable TV and social media, we should not be limiting voting…