Stephen L. Knipper

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Republican
Question 1: 

What is your vision for strengthening civic participation in Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be different in four years if you are elected?

I will renew voter's faith at the ballot box and bring our state back into compliance with Federal law. Presently, Ky has 18 counties that have more registered voters on the books than people who live in the county(ies). Ensuring accurate voter rolls is one of the main responsibilities of a full time Sec. of State.  I will use a tested, secure and legal process to audit Ky's voter rolls. I will work with our County Clerks to conduct the audit and put into place processes to prevent this problem from occurring again. 

The current Sec of State Alison Grimes wants to introduce on-line voter registration. At this time, this will compound the problem.  It does not clean up past years of neglect.  In fact, on line registration opens the voter rolls to a whole new area for fraud.  Alison's time in office was spent chasing a higher office.  I won’t do this.  If elected, I will dedicate my time to restoring integrity to the office of Secretary of State.

Question 2: 

How does your background qualify you for serving in this office?

I am an Information Technology business professional with over 20 years of experience as a Project Manager and Business Analyst for S&P 500 and Forbes 200 companies.  I also have my Six Sigma certification which is used to create effective and efficient workflow and process enhancements.

The Sec of State's office is essentially a series of processes for the state of Ky.  Whether that process is elections, business filing, or adoption certifications I will make sure we have a team who follows a set process to achieve our goals.  

As a Project Manager, I've worked on IT security and infrastructure projects with budgets 5 to 7 times the size of the Secretary of State's. Moreover, I led international teams of 50-75 people in multiple time zones to complete the necessary projects on time, within budget and within scope.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing online voter registration, early voting, mail-in ballots, or other election reforms? Please explain.

I've worked with state of the art technology for years.  I support modernizing the voting system with technology, but we have some housekeeping to take care of before moving in that direction.  We must first clean up our voter rolls before implementing new technology.  As we move forward with technology it is important that we do so cautiously with an eye to security and budget.  We must also make sure we have a backup system in place for any system malfunctions.  Currently, we have paper ballots and books as back ups.  Let's make sure we've tested new IT processes correctly and thoroughly and have back up's in place before doing away with proven processes just for a 'political' victory.

Question 4: 

If you become Secretary of State, what ideas do you have for working with voter outreach organizations to increase voter registration and turnout?

I've already begun speaking to University and High School students, letting them know that the voting process is how we decide our future. If elected, I will also use newer technologies like social media, Apple/Android app advertisements, satellite radio, and YouTube at no cost, or half of regular advertising cost, with twice the market coverage.

The audit I will conduct will also increase voter turnout.  When voters know there isn't fraud at the voter box, they are more likely to believe that their vote counts, which in turn increases voter turn out.  This is exactly what happened when Ohio conducted an audit of their voter books.  

If I'm elected we will have multiple platforms upon which to work to get out the vote.  I believe strongly in our political system.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike must have their say at the voting booth.  

In addition, I am the only Sec of State candidate to have Independents on my team. Currently, we have laws that pertain only to Independent candidates and voters. I believe we need to review these laws and see which ones pertain today and which ones keep us moving forward toward voter participation.   

Question 5: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to more than 180,000 Kentuckians with felony convictions who have completed their sentence? Please explain.

Yes, for NON-VIOLENT offenders.  I've spoken to many families who have members with a past NON-VIOLENT offense.  All of their other rights have been restored, but they still can't vote.  This is wrong.  I believe in second chances for offenses that did not injure another party.  If a person has received a pardon and reinstatement for all other rights, then voting should be restored. 

Unfortunately, like most of the processes we have in place this is cumbersome and doesn't work well. One particular gentleman I met on the campaign trail in Boone Co has done everything he's supposed to do after getting his rights restored, even calling the Secretary of State's office.  But for the last two years he's shown up to vote and has been told he's not eligible because of a broken process.  

If I am elected Secretary of State, we will have a seamless, easy voter restoration process at all appropriate levels of authority and administration.  Someone who goes through the proper process and wants to choose their future by voting will not be turned away the way this gentleman was under the current Secretary of State.