Although a pair of federal courts have declared the state’s ban on electioneering near polling places unconstitutional, it will likely have little effect on this month’s primary election.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a U.S. District Court ruling, which prohibited electioneering within 300 feet of polling places.
The lower court ruled, and the Appeals Court affirmed, that people could electioneer on private property, even if that property is within 300 feet of a polling place.
At the time of the October ruling, local elections officials worried electioneering within 300 feet of the polls would reduce voter turnout.
But Daviess County Clerk David “Oz” Osborne said the election — a contentious one that included a battle for one of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seats between Sen. Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — went off without any electioneering disruptions.
“In November, we didn’t have any problems,” Osborne said.
The May 19 primary likely won’t be impacted by the electioneering ruling either, Osborne said.
“(During) the last gubernatorial primary, we had 8 percent turnout,” Osborne said.
Poll workers will likely not do anything different on primary day, but will handle any problems at the polls caused by electioneering on a case-by-case basis.
“If somebody is right at the (polling place) door causing a disruption, we’re going to deal with that,” Osborne said.
In the future, Osborne said he plans to ask Daviess Fiscal Court to adopt an ordinance banning electioneering with 100 feet of polling places.
Other counties have enacted the 100-foot ban and “haven’t been challenged,” Osborne said.
“I feel like there needs to be some barrier, but we can’t do anything for this primary,” Osborne said. “… I think we’ll discuss that with the court.”
Osborne said he would like to have a 100-foot ban in place before the 2016 presidential election.