Legislative update: Higdon urges patience while election results checked, certified

14th District State Senator

Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 — Kentuckians came through in a big way during the 2020 general election. The state set a strong standard for how an election should be run. Impressively, and to the credit of Kentucky’s hard working and dedicated County Clerks’ Office staff, volunteers, and the Secretary of State, almost all election results were available to us on election night. That is the way it should be. Official results were declared a week later. By comparison, some other states still do not have official ballot counts or results.


It is worth stating that the media does not declare who the winners of elections are. News outlets can project who they look to be, but that does not equate to an official result or outcome.

Many of us remember the hanging chads from Florida in the 2000 presidential election. After that race, Florida made it a priority to improve its election process. The efforts they made to improve appear to have worked, because like Kentucky, they quickly tallied votes on election night.

The states that are still counting ballots can learn a lot from the lessons Florida discovered so long ago and what Kentucky has managed to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the day, it is important for voters to know what the results are. The longer the public waits for clear and official results, the more anticipation and sometimes frustration can grow. Voters need to know and feel that elections are conducted fairly and honestly, and that the results can be trusted.

The question at this time seems to be, is there evidence of widespread irregularities that could change the presidential election? That has been the claim of President Donald Trump’s campaign. We cannot truly know until that evidence is thoroughly reviewed by the appropriate entities. In the meantime, all we can do is wait to see if findings prove to be more than assertions. This election has been like no other to come before it.

Keep in mind that there is a legitimate and official process for challenging election results. This is true no matter if you are running for city council or the presidency. No matter what party you may favor over the other, it is important for every participant of our constitutional republic to support the rights of candidates to challenge the results. I support this process. President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to review the reports of irregularities. We saw this process in the presidential race of 2000 with Gore vs. Bush. The challenge was finally decided by the Supreme Court, and George W. Bush was declared the winner.

Until the electoral college meets in December, there is no official president-elect. This is the case with any projected winner. It was true in 2016, has been true in past elections, and is still true today. The Constitution of the United States requires that, “the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December,” as the date in which the Electoral College meets to cast ballots for President of the United States. This year, the date falls on December 14. The deadline for states, known as “safe harbor,” to choose electors, is six days prior, December 8. In a situation in which states cannot declare a winner by that day, the newly elected Congress is responsible for determining the states’ winner when lawmakers meet to count electoral votes on January 6, 2021.

To all who participated in the 2020 general election by making their voices heard, I thank you.

My colleagues and I in the Kentucky General Assembly are nearing the end of the 2020 Interim during which we have been working hard to prepare for the 2021 Regular Session that begins on Jan. 5, 2021. The impacts of COVID-19 remain the focus of our attention.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or any public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 (office) or (270) 692-6945 (home) or email me at Jimmy.Higdon@lrc.ky.gov. You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov. God bless. Stay safe.


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