Kentucky Senate: Have state elections in even-numbered years

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's elections for governor and other constitutional offices would shift to even-numbered years, coinciding with presidential elections, under a proposal overwhelmingly approved Thursday by the state Senate.

Attempts to do away with statewide elections in odd-numbered years have become a perennial endeavor in the Senate. Similar proposals died in the House in past years.

In 2019, Democrat Andy Beshear won the race for governor, while Republicans dominated the down-ballot races.

The latest proposal would move the election of constitutional officers — the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner — to even-numbered years starting in 2028.

If the proposed constitutional amendment clears both chambers of the General Assembly, it would go on the ballot this November for Kentucky voters to decide.

The measure passed the Senate, 31-3, on Thursday. It now heads to the House. Both chambers are dominated by Republicans.

Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has championed the proposal for years, said the switch to even-numbered years would increase voter participation in elections for statewide offices. It also would save the state about $3.5 million in election costs and counties about $13.5 million, he said.

“In a time of tough budgets and when every level of government is struggling for funding, this is a simple way to save a significant amount of money and increase voter participation," he said.

Sen. Robin Webb was among three Democrats voting against the bill. Webb said the tradition of elections in odd-numbered years “protects Kentucky's interests."

“The issues that affect Kentucky need to take the forefront in any debate, in any election, and not be drowned out by millions of dollars in advertisement from the national level," she said.

If added to the state's Constitution, the change would not affect the 2023 election for statewide offices. But it would create a one-time situation enabling the winning candidates to serve five-year terms. Traditional four-year terms would return for victorious candidates in the 2028 election for constitutional offices.

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The legislation is Senate Bill 3.