HAZARD—Perry County, like the rest of the Eastern Kentucky region, has been notoriously linked with election tampering allegations for years. In 2012, officials with the state Attorney General’s office reportedly received dozens of calls to its voter fraud hotline from the Southeastern Kentucky area concerning election tampering fears. Now, local officials are working to resolve some of this problem by ensuring that all registered voters in Perry County actually live in the county.
Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said he has received multiple calls regarding possible voter fraud this year along precinct borders.
“I’ve been told there’s a lot of people that live out of the county that vote in Perry County,” Noble said.
Noble explained that he began receiving information about these possible instances of voter fraud weeks ago, and had even heard allegations from past elections. After reviewing 911 maps and checking physical addresses earlier this month, Noble said it became clear that one of the main problems in those areas was that voters who physically lived outside of Perry County were registering with their Perry County PO Box address.
According to the Kentucky State Board of Elections, voters must register with the address for their place of residence—in other words, the place where they sleep and live.
“They could be voting in both counties, and if that’s so then it’s voter fraud,” Noble said. “It’s not really right for the people of Perry County. It’s doing a disservice to the people of Perry County, a disjustice, because they go out and vote for a person, whoever it might be, to serve them, and then you someone that’s coming out of another county that they don’t serve because they might be getting paid or getting something special to do that and they’re not affected.”
Noble said the areas he’s most concerned with this happening in are the communities that boarder Knott County.
“Whoever registered those people knows they live in Knott County and evidently they’ve been paneling them to vote, in my opinion, probably been like here, I’ll give you so much to register over here and you vote for me over here,” Noble said.”I think it affects District 2 more than anyone.”
Ronald Combs, District 2 Magistrate, said even though it seems to be difficult to check every single registered address to make sure there are no fradulent voters in the county, there could be other things implemented to help quell any fears.
“You know it really wouldn’t be that hard to check if you put somebody on the boarder of each precinct, whether it be Breathitt, Knott, have somebody check them out. That might be one way,” Combs said.
Disctrict 3 Magistrate Earl Brashear said it was issues like this that could make or break an election.
“Some elections are pretty close, if you take one or two votes from a different county it could mean the difference,” he said.
Perry County Clerk Haven King, whose office handles voter registration and any voter fraud allegations, said he was looking into the concerns that Noble had brought to his office’s attention.
“The only comment I can make about it is our precinct boundaries are established and we go by 911 address, that’s what we go by, not by post office, we go by 911 address,” King said. “I’ve not had anybody to make any comment to me or any of the girls in the office about there being a problem in Knott County of voting in Perry County.”
King said there was no sure way to check that every registered voter was registering legally short of checking that each registered address matched the 911 address listed with the individual’s name. He added that voters could register with their PO Box address, though would face legal ramifications if caught.
“You could but that’s what you call voter fraud, and when you fill out that card you know what that card says,” he said.
During a regular called Perry County Fiscal Court meeting Tuesday morning, King addressed the court with a letter explaining that he and his office had investigated the claims of voter fraud brought up by Noble.
“No ineligible voters were lovated in the Second Creek and Vicco precincts. Working from the list of possible ineligible voters provided to me, we located 11 voters who had addresses located on Lotts Creek Road that were physically located in Knott County,” King said in the letter, adding that those individuals were deemed ineligible, though seven of them were found to have never even voted before.
Eleven more voters in the Pheonix Place community were also deemed ineligible by the Perry County Election Commission, and all were notified by mail.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.