Friday, February 13, 2009

Bill would set out rules for media at polls

A bill setting specific rules for the news media to cover election-day activities at voting places was introduced Friday in the state Senate. The bill has the agreement of the Kentucky Press Association, the Kentucky Broadcasters Association, the state Board of Elections and its chairman, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, according to KPA.

Senate Bill 130 was introduced by Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, in an attempt to prevent problems that hindered journalists in the 2008 election. Some officials prohibited access to voting rooms and others prohibited access within 300 feet of polling places, a KPA statement said.

"The legislation, while not perfect, would allow photographs of voters without limiting to profile shots or shots of 'legs and feet' as some were restricted in this last election," KPA said. "It would also allow interviews in the building except in the voting room or a voter who is already in line to vote."

The bill would also require journalists to carry either a state police press pass or authorization from the county board of elections. Current law does not authorize news media to be in the voting area. Even though a state attorney general's opinion says journalists have the right to be there, many election officials deny access, KPA said. The bill says journalists "shall not film the identity of voters in the voting room without first requesting and gaining the permission of each voter." The full text of the bill can be found at

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