FRANKFORT – Attorney General Andy Beshear Wednesday announced the six Kentucky counties to undergo independent inquiries for any potential irregularities that may have occurred during the May 22 primary election.

The counties, randomly drawn by Beshear in a publicly held drawing, include Bullitt, Jessamine, Owen, Powell, Rowan and Scott counties, according to a state news release.

“These audits ensure a fair and equitable election process in Kentucky and supplement the work our investigators did leading up to and during the primary election,” Beshear said. “Kentuckians have the right to cast their ballot free of interference and intimidation, and my office is here to protect that right.”

Kentucky law requires the attorney general to conduct postelection audits in no fewer than 5 percent of Kentucky’s counties following each primary and general election, and to randomly select the counties in a publicly held drawing.

These routine inquiries will include checking election forms and interviewing county officials. After the audits are conducted by Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations, his Office of Special Prosecutions presents the results to the respective grand juries.

The selection of these counties does not imply that irregularities are suspected, Beshear said.

Beshear said there were no irregularities found in the six counties selected during the last postelection audit for the 2016 general election in November. Those counties included Calloway, Carter, Jackson, Leslie, Muhlenberg and Wayne.

There were no statewide elections in 2017.

In this election cycle, the office’s Election Law Violations hotline received 318 election complaints from 78 counties, and 71 complaints are still under review by Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations. By law, the office cannot provide details regarding specific complaints or possible pending investigations.

By law, the Office of the Attorney General has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute election law violations. In addition to the hotline, investigators from the attorney general’s office are staged throughout the state on Election Day to immediately respond to complaints.

Beshear’s office coordinates election monitoring with the State Board of Elections, Secretary of State’s Office, Kentucky State Police, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, and Beshear’s staff reviews complaints and, when appropriate, refers them for further action.

The office answers the Election Law Violations hotline – 800-328-VOTE (8683) – on a daily basis throughout the year, though certainly with an expanded presence on primary and general election days, Beshear said.

During the 2016 primary election cycle, the attorney general’s office received 119 calls, including a call from the Pike County Clerk’s Office, which led to the conviction of a Pike County man.

In August 2017, Beshear announced that Keith Justice, of Pikeville, pleaded guilty in Franklin Circuit Court to four counts of attempting to intimidate an election officer, and one count of attempting to interfere with an election. Under terms of the plea agreement with Beshear’s Office of Special Prosecutions, Justice was sentenced to 30 days home incarceration, ordered to pay a $500 fine and surrender his private investigator’s license for a year.

“We will continue to aggressively pursue any allegations of election fraud and hold accountable those responsible,” Beshear said.

To help protect Kentuckians voting rights, just last month Beshear joined local and state leaders at the Louisville Urban League to announce that a section of his office will now have a singular focus to monitor and possibly challenge any unconstitutional laws passed in Kentucky that could disenfranchise voters across the state.

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