Quick Takes

Attorney general’s office draws 12 counties for post-primary election audits

By: - May 24, 2023 10:50 am

Raindrops sprinkled the windows on Election Day, May 16, at Elkhorn Crossing School in Georgetown. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Abbey Cutrer)

After a dozen county names were drawn from a small barrel Wednesday morning, detectives in the Department of Criminal Investigations within the Kentucky attorney general’s office will begin work on post-primary election audits. 

DCI Commissioner Greg Wolf said detectives will review election records from county clerks. They will also speak with county boards of elections, local officials and poll workers to ensure elections were conducted properly and without issues. 

“I think most of the time what it does is it restores confidence or enforces the confidence,” Wolf said. “Most of these clerks are doing an excellent job. Most of the time our report is, ‘Everything’s good.’ The majority of the time it’s just reinforcing what the clerks are already doing.”

Wednesday’s drawing was open to reporters and was live-streamed online

Amy Burke, the assistant deputy attorney general of the criminal division, said the audits are another component of the office’s role in reviewing election integrity. Another responsibility it has is reviewing complaints for possible election law violations submitted via a hotline. 

A change in state law in 2022  required more counties to be part of the audit. Previously, six counties were reviewed, or 5% of all counties, Burke said. 

“We started a little early and did 12 counties during the last election cycle so that DCI could get accustomed to the doubling of the workload,” she added. 

The length of the process varies, but typically takes four or five months, Wolf said. Getting the records from clerks may take some time and detectives are working on other cases. Findings must also be presented to a grand jury. 

In his time working in the office since 2011, Wolf said he did not recall a time when something found in an election inquiry turned into a criminal case. 

Burke drew the 12 county names Tuesday. They are:

  • Madison 
  • Owsley 
  • Bracken 
  • Trigg
  • Hopkins
  • Harrison 
  • Boyd
  • Clinton 
  • Clay
  • Cumberland
  •  Nelson
  •  Boyle 

Three counties had to be redrawn as they were part of the last audit, Breathitt, Shelby and Anderson. Counties are exempt from consecutive audits. 

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.