More than 1,300 public employees in Kentucky took paid vacation leave in the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Primary Election, but did not vote.
That’s according to a report this week from State Auditor Mike Harmon. He said this added up to more than $100,000 dollars in wages.
While the amount may seem like a ‘drop in the bucket’ in the overall state budget, Harmon said it’s important to hold people accountable when it comes to taxpayer money.
“So it’s important that if a benefit is given, that it is done so with a proper matter in honoring that service.” Harmon said.
This is the third Election Leave Report conducted by the state Auditor's office. Harmon said a 2005 report found nearly $400,000 dollars lost to improper voting leave. A 2007 report found those numbers dropped to an amount similar to the most recent findings.
The most current audit found that 1,329 employees claimed four hours of paid election leave but were not entitled to it because they weren't registered to vote, did not cast a ballot or were on another form of leave. Harmon said of those, 1,176 took leave but did not cast a ballot in one or both elections. He said data from the 2016 General Election was not included because state workers are given the day off for Presidential elections.
Auditors also found two public employees who were registered to vote in two different counties, one in both Harlan and Fayette, and the other on election register books for both Morgan and Fayette during the 2015 General Election.
“It is essential to keep our election registration system in Kentucky accurate and avoid any issues which could give the appearance of improprieties with voting records,” Harmon said. “I encourage the State Board of Elections, Secretary of State, and others who oversee our election rolls to review this finding carefully, and to take the actions necessary to eliminate errors our auditors uncovered.”
Harmon said called the findings "troubling" and said the report will be sent to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and the Personnel Cabinet for further investigation and possible disciplinary action.
This story has been updated.