election 300HANSON, Ky. (9/11/18) — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes visited the Western Kentucky Veterans Center today to announce the local facility will be joining the state's three other veterans centers as a polling place in future elections.

"On this anniversary of Sept. 11, we are a reminded of the very serious sacrifices our veterans have made to protect and defend our homeland and freedoms, particularly our precious democracy," Grimes said. "Making sure these veterans – especially those in the care of our state's veterans centers – have easy access to the ballot box is one of the most fundamental ways we can honor them. I am extremely grateful to our partners across Kentucky, and especially the Hopkins County Board of Elections, for making this possible for the residents of the Western Kentucky Veterans Center."

This initiative to ensure veterans center residents can easily cast their ballots is made possible through the partnership of Grimes, the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, state veterans centers and local county boards of elections in Jessamine, Perry, Hopkins and Hardin counties. The veterans centers will serve as the official polling place for the voting precinct where they are located. Kentucky's four veterans centers are home to hundreds of veterans in long-term care, offering a broad range of nursing and medical care.

"Our military veterans have dutifully served their country and we owe them a great debt of gratitude for faithfully defending our freedoms. Brig. Gen Benjamin Adams III said. "At the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, we work every day to make sure our veterans and their families receive all the benefits and services they have earned. We are particularly mindful that these veterans' service and sacrifice has helped protect and enshrine the right to vote for all Americans, so we support any effort that enhances their access to polling locations so they can cast a ballot."

"Our veterans are very near and dear to my heart," said Hopkins County Clerk Keenan Cloern. "Hopefully, this move will bring to the forefront of voters' minds just how much our veterans have sacrificed for our freedom."

As Secretary of State, Grimes said in a statement that she has focused intently on veterans and military issues, including traveling to meeting with Kentucky troops in Afghanistan and championing a new law, the Military Heroes Voting Initiative, allowing more than 10,000 military and overseas voters to receive absentee ballots online. She also encourages Kentuckians to honor the service of veterans at the ballot box through her vote in honor of a veteran program. Recently, she announced a new business program, Boots to Business, to support new veteran entrepreneurs.

Honor Flight Kentucky and the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame, two veterans organizations that recognize veterans for their service and continued contributions to Kentucky, Grimes said in the announcement.

"Secretary Grimes continues to work for veterans and making the veterans centers polling places is a step to the future and a fantastic plan by her and for the veterans of Kentucky. She has always had the veterans first in her forward-thinking, and I will always thank her and respect her for that," said H.B. Deatherage, executive director of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.

"Establishing the commonwealth's veterans centers as polling locations is most appropriate," said Phillip Pittman, organizer of Honor Flight Kentucky. "Throughout the history of our great nation, it has been the veteran who sacrificed greatly to protect our freedoms and values, not the least of which is the right to vote. The significance of voting at one of these four facilities should be an inspiration to all Kentuckians as they exercise this solemn responsibility."

Joseph "Eddie" Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center administrator LaDonna Scott said making the center a polling place will help Hopkins County residents say thank you to veterans.

"We are humbled to have Western Kentucky Veterans Center serve as a polling site," Scott said. "To bring the ability to vote directly to a facility who only serves veterans is a true testament of our mission," Scott said. "We welcome this opportunity to provide this one privilege they will be able to maintain and recognize it is a small, but sincere, gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices they made to protect our right to vote."

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