Judge denies Ky. Senate candidate's request for absentee voter l - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge denies Ky. Senate candidate's request for absentee voter lists

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A candidate for the Kentucky Senate is not entitled to absentee voter lists in advance of the May 20 primary election, a federal judge ruled last week.

Senate hopeful Deb Sheldon of Alexandria, Ky., had asked U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning to prevent Kentucky officials from enforcing a state law designed to keep the names and addresses of such voters private until after an election.

An attorney for Sheldon, who is facing two foes in the Republican primary for the 24th District seat, had argued in court documents that the law, which was amended in 2013, violates the Constitution and prevents her from communicating her political platform with a targeted group of voters.

But in his May 1 order, Bunning wrote that “there is no constitutional right to access information in the possession of the government” – and, as such, Sheldon’s First Amendment rights aren’t being harmed.

Bunning also noted that election officials would have to release voter data to anyone who requests it.

“Once released, that information is subject to use and misuse by any number of individuals. Absentee voters would be vulnerable to harassment, undue influence and property crime. The government’s efforts to safeguard the integrity of the election process would be severely undermined,” he wrote.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and several county clerks are named in the lawsuit, which Sheldon and her campaign committee filed in U.S. District Court in Covington.

Sheldon had sought the names to conduct an "absentee ballot chase," or a focused attempt to contact those voters directly.

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