MURRAY –  Today was supposed to be the last day in Kentucky for prospective candidates to file to run for office this year. However, with the 2022 General Assembly on track to pass a redistricting bill soon, legislators passed a bill this week to extend the filing deadline to Jan. 25.

As of press time Thursday, the filing deadline was still set for 4 p.m. today, and Calloway County Clerk Anontia Faulkner said she always expects to see a large number of last-minute filings on the last day. The General Assembly kicked off on Tuesday, and the House voted 84-12 Wednesday to pass House Bill 172, which would extend the filing deadline for all candidates to Jan. 25 and would be effective for the 2022 primary and for no other election.

Kentucky Public Radio reported that the Senate passed the bill Thursday afternoon, sending it to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk. He can choose to sign it into law, veto it or sit on it for 10 days, which would automatically make it law. If Beshear chooses to veto it, lawmakers could easily override it, KPR reported. 

According to the Legislative Research Commission, if the bill becomes law, it would permit the Secretary of State or county clerks, as appropriate, to determine when the drawing for ballot positions and certifications will be held, as well as establish any other necessary elections deadlines for the 2022 primary, excluding the date of the primary. 

State Rep. Mary Beth Imes (R-Murray) said that since the redistricting bill would only affect legislative, congressional and Supreme Court districts, there was some debate among House members as to whether the deadline change should also apply to local races or not. In the end, though, House members decided to make the rules the same for all candidates in Kentucky, partly to lessen the chance of someone pursuing litigation to challenge the bill.

“There was a lot of argument about those that the redistricting wouldn’t affect, the local officials,” Imes said. “There were a lot of questions about that, but (leadership decided to apply it across the board) so they wouldn’t have to face legal ramifications. So it includes all offices.”

State Sen. Jason Howell (R-Murray) could not be reached for comment before deadline Thursday.

Faulkner said that for the time being, she would proceed as if the deadline will remain in place.

“The filing deadline is going to be Friday at 4 p.m.; that’s what it is right now and that’s what we’re holding at,” Faulkner said. “Whether (anything changes in the future), that’s where we’re at, so I’m going to be here as much as I can to be sure and get those filings in for people. So Friday, Jan. 7, at 4 p.m., I will call out to the room and make sure nobody’s in here (getting ready to file their paperwork). 

“As for any kind of changes, there’s not anything changed in stone yet. So if any deadlines are different, that will happen when it happens. As a clerk, I know I’ve heard things about legislation and getting it to the Senate and getting it to the governor and that sort of thing about deadline changes, so right now, I’m just kind of in limbo. Right now, anyone that wants to be on a ballot in May or 2022 … needs to file by Jan. 7 at 4 p.m.”

Dec. 31 was the deadline to change party registration, so it is too late for anyone to register to vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries if you are currently a registered member of the opposite party. However, the deadline to register to vote in the May 17 primary is not until April 18, which is 30 days before the election. Faulkner urged residents to not wait until the last minute to either register or to make sure you are already registered to vote.

“It’s important to check your registration, either at govoteky.gov or call our office to make sure ahead of time before May,” Faulkner said. “We can explain things and we can check things for you. After the (Dec. 31) deadline, there’s no party changing, so we can’t do anything there, but we can at least tell you what’s going on and what to expect.”