MURRAY — Heather French Henry, a democratic nominee for Kentucky Secretary of State, visited Murray Thursday to meet with voters.
While in town, she talked with the Ledger to discuss her aims for the office, and why she felt she was best qualified. Among the reasons she offered, Henry said she has experience working in government on both sides of the aisle.
Henry served both Gov. Steve Beshear and Matt Bevin as the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. Henry said her love of the military and desire to support veterans came from her father, who is a disabled Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. Henry, who was Miss America 2000, used that opportunity to continue fighting for veterans.
Henry said her platform would focus on voter security, partnering with county clerks, civics education, business filings and the preservation of historic documents.
“I will be a fiscal foot soldier for county clerks and helping them get funding such as federal grants to help them purchase new machines, update software for those machines and look at the voter registration system,” Henry said. “How do we keep things up to date, how do we keep votes and voter information secure? One of my objectives would be to continue the same conversation they had for the last year in hiring a chief information security officer; someone who is solely dedicated to the digital security of our information.”
Henry said there are currently two people within the Secretary of State’s office that handle security clearance with Homeland Security. They also get updated information about fraudulent or dark web activity.
“I think it is vitally important to have someone solely dedicated who oversees that infrastructure,” she said.
Henry said she wants to work closely with county clerks across the state to listen to their needs and try to meet them. This would include working with the Department of Education to increase civic understanding of the voting process, in addition to looking at what clerks need to increase the number of people who not only register to vote, but show up on election day.
“We understand that the county clerks handle a multitude of services and wear a ton of different hats,” Henry said. “When it comes to elections, they are the boots on the ground in the trenches handling that. And I believe in servant leadership; when you are in a leadership role, the first question I will ask them is how I can better serve them.”
Henry said that service could be finding funding, helping fill polling precincts with personnel and talking about any election reform that might need to happen. While Kentucky is above the national average for registered voters, voter turnout is still low.
“Voter turnout is extremely difficult, and right now they anticipate a low voter turnout for this primary,” Henry said. “I really think getting out the word and educating and getting people excited about political races is important. But I am concerned that people may have lost trust in government, so they feel like their vote doesn’t count. I think there are fundamental ways we can make it even easier and create less obstacles for people to vote.”
Henry said that meant working with county clerks to potentially expand voting hours on election day, automatic voter registration when people get their drivers license and early voting were all items that she would look at alongside clerks to see what adjustments should be made.
“My message to the voters is to go vote first and foremost,” she said. “Make sure that you are engaged in the process and make sure that you are informed. It is important to me that people partake no matter what side you are going to be voting on and that you engage in that process. I would tell voters that if you want someone who has the experience, the passion and who believes wholeheartedly in Kentucky then Heather French Henry is your candidate.”