Kentucky's top election official will take a fresh look at lifting restrictions on early voting, an idea that lawmakers have been reluctant to approve despite repeated attempts in recent years.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes began a series of meetings Tuesday to gauge public support for allowing Kentucky to join other states that allow voters to cast ballots before Election Day.
Kentucky now allows only limited early voting by absentee ballots, which are reserved for people who can't get to the polls on Election Day. Typically, that's because of out-of-town travel, military service or health concerns.
Grimes has scheduled town hall meetings across the state to explore whether Kentucky should join more than 30 other states that have less stringent rules for early voting "as a way to increase voter participation." She urged rank-and-file voters, elected officials, political activists and election officials to attend the meetings, which begin Tuesday evening in Morgan County.
Other meetings are set for Kenton County on May 22, Jefferson County on May 29, McCracken County on June 3 and Madison County on June 20.
"It's intended to make sure that the very people these laws affect have a voice at the table," Grimes said.
Grimes said she's prepared to make legislative or regulatory recommendations based on her findings.
"Early voting is obviously something that's left up to the Legislature," she said. "But I am encouraging and supportive of every means we can take in order to increase participation."
Grimes said states that allow early voting have seen increased participation in their elections.
Kentucky lawmakers, citing concerns about election fraud, have quashed all attempts to allow early voting.
Grimes predecessor, former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, had pushed the proposal unsuccessfully during his term in office. He had called for all owing Kentuckians to vote in person up to 12 days before an election, without having to make excuses as required under current absentee voting procedures.