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Secretary of State Michael Adams

Secretary of State Michael Adams

Renee Shaw speaks with Kentucky's new Secretary of State, Michael Adams.
S15 E17 Length 28:47 Premiere: 1.19.20

The Secretary of State outlines his agenda

Kentucky's new Secretary of State Michael Adams says he's been an "election nerd" since childhood. Growing up in a Democratic family in what was once the Democratic stronghold of western Kentucky, the young Adams instead gravitated to the politics of Republicans, finding inspiration in President Ronald Reagan and Congressman Jack Kemp.

By age 13, he was advising his parents on the best candidates to support. At 16, Adams was volunteering for the 1992 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign.

The Paducah native has parlayed that early passion into a life-long career. He graduated from the University of Louisville and Harvard Law School, and then worked for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, the Republican Governors' Association, and Vice President Mike Pence.

After helping other candidates win their elections, Adams made his own bid for public office last year. He defeated Democrat Heather French Henry to become the 86th Secretary of State for the commonwealth.

“I ran for this to be the chief election nerd,” says Adams. “Elections are so important to me, it’s the core of my entire career and it’s why I get up in the morning.”

Bill Would Require Proof of Identification

A key issue on Adams' agenda is legislation to require Kentuckians to present identification with photo when they go to vote. Under current law voters are requested to show a photo ID such as a driver's license. If they have none, they may present a Social Security card or credit card, or the poll worker can vouch for the person's identity.

Under Senate Bill 2, voters would have to present a government-issued photo ID. Student IDs with a photo and expiration date issued by a state college or university would also suffice.

Adams says photo IDs are required for mundane daily activities like cashing a check or purchasing Sudafed, so why not require such an identification to cast a ballot in elections.

“How can you live as a first-class American citizen in modern life without an ID?” Adams says.

To ensure the proposal does not disenfranchise any potential voters, SB 2 waives the $30 fee to acquire a state-issued identification card for those who cannot afford it. Adams says that provision is critical.

“If I see a bill that doesn't provide a free ID, I’m going to publicly oppose it, even if it kills my agenda,” he says. “This is not right, it’s not humane, and it’s not constitutional, I don’t think, without a free ID for everybody.”

Individuals still unable to obtain the proper ID by Election Day would be able to cast a provisional ballot, but they would have to later verify their identity to voting officials.

Ensuring Accurate Voter Rolls

Adams says the photo ID requirement is the first step to restoring integrity and public confidence in state elections. He says 20 people have been convicted and imprisoned for election-fraud related offenses in Kentucky in recent years. But he also says that none of those people committed voter impersonation.

Even as voting officials work to protect election systems from foreign hacking, Adams says the state should take basic steps to protect the integrity of who votes. That includes ensuring accurate voter registration rolls. Adams says some 300,000 people -- or about 8 percent of the voter rolls -- should have their registrations purged because they have moved out of state, died, committed a felony, or are no longer mentally competent.

“This is not a partisan issue, it’s just good government and competence,” says Adams. “Having accurate voter rolls is good for everybody.”

Critics of similar plans pursued by other states contend purges of registration data result in legitimate voters being unable to cast a ballot. Adams says that won't happen in Kentucky.

“We're not going to suppress anybody,” he says. “To me it’s important that people engage – I want them to go out there and fight for their team.”

Adams is already working to secure court permission to clean up the state's voter registration rolls. He says the process can occur without action by lawmakers, unless his office and the state Board of Elections need additional funds to conduct the review and purge. Adams says one thing that won't get a person's registration removed is their failure to participate in previous elections.

“I don’t want not voting to be a condition that gets you kicked off the rolls,” the secretary says. “Not voting’s an American freedom.”

Other Voting Issues

Adams also wants to make it easier for people to vote early if they will be out of town on Election Day. And he's considering ways to extend voting hours on primary and general election days. Adams says he thinks the state could expand voting hours from the current 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to last until 7 or 8 p.m.

If that happens, he suggest creating two, seven-hour shifts for poll workers. (Poll workers now work one, 12-hour shift.) He also wants to explore ways to have private employers incentivize their employees to serve as poll workers.

“We’ve got a crisis in this state,” says Adams. “We don’t have enough poll workers, and it’s getting harder and harder every year… I want to find a way to make this easier.”

Although he wants to facilitate the balloting process, Adams doesn't want to place more financial or logistical burdens on county clerks responsible for managing the vote in the state's 120 counties.

“They're already not getting the amounts of money that, by law, they’re supposed to get from Frankfort to run their elections,” the secretary says. “The last thing I want to do to the clerks is to give them another unfunded mandate.”

Adams also supports restoration of voting rights for certain former felons. But rather than doing that through executive order as Gov. Andy Beshear recently did, he prefers having that occur through legislation.

“I think the legislature and the public ought to have some voice in who gets their rights restored and who doesn’t,” says Adams. “Do we have a period of rehabilitation, do we have restitution in cases of economic crimes, are there certain offenses that we should exclude?”

Beshear's order restored voting rights to some 140,000 low-level, non-violent felons who had completed their sentences. But Adams says Beshear failed to exclude felons who may have been convicted of crimes like tampering with voting machines or falsifying a voter registration.

“We need to include all of those election law felonies in whatever version of this we come up with, and that’s what I’m going to ask the legislature to do,” says the secretary.

Adams says he also supports reversing a law enacted by the 2019 General Assembly to limit the Secretary of State power over the state Board of Elections. He says whether he or Heather French Henry had won the 2019 race, he thought those duties should be restored to the new secretary. But Adams also says getting that law changed is not a priority for him.

Signing the Pages of History

Although Adams has been a Republican since his youth, he says one of his roll models is a former Democratic president.

“Bill Clinton was a poor kid from rural background who worked really hard, believed in certain things, and just from his own willpower and bootstraps made it to the top of his profession,” says Adams. “I didn’t vote for him, I voted for the other guy, but I always liked Bill Clinton and I respected his story.”

Adams was the first in his family to get a college degree, and he attended Harvard with the help of financial aid. He says he was recruited to run for Kentucky Attorney General, but he declined those requests because without prosecutorial or law enforcement experience he felt he wouldn't be the best-qualified candidate for the job.

As Secretary of State, Adams oversees elections issues as well as business services, including maintaining records to create new companies and registering trademarks. He also signs executive actions, proclamations, extradition orders, and other directives issued by the governor.

“The only core constitutional duty that I have in this office, the only duty that’s not set by the legislature in law, is to attest to the acts of the governor,” says Adams. “It’s really special to literally put your signature on the pages of history.”

Program Details

Connections

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Each week, host Renee Shaw and a variety of interesting and engaging people - including business leaders, entertainers, authors, celebrities, and more - explore a broad array of topics impacting Kentucky and the world.

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Connections

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Connections

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Kinship Care - S10 E46

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  • Friday October 15, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

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Dorothy Butler Gilliam - S11 E7

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  • Friday October 22, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections - S17 E8

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Allison Joseph - S11 E8

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Ari Berman - S11 E9

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  • Tuesday October 26, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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  • Wednesday October 27, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kevin Chapman - S10 E28

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Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

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  • Thursday September 16, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 9:29 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

  • Tuesday September 14, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 14, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 14, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 14, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

  • Monday September 13, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 13, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 13, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 13, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday September 13, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday September 13, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu - S17 E2

  • Sunday September 19, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 18, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 18, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Cynthia Knapek - Leadership Louisville Center

  • Sunday September 12, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Friday September 10, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Thursday September 9, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 9, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 2:20 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 1:20 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Friday September 3, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Thursday September 2, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Monday August 30, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education

  • Sunday September 5, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 4, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 4, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

The Rise of Anti-Asian Violence

  • Sunday August 29, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday August 28, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday August 28, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Friday August 27, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Robert Hilgers - S9 E41

  • Thursday August 26, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Wil James - S9 E40

  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

African Americans and Mental Health - S9 E39

  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Season 15 Episodes

UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig

S15 E24 Length 26:41 Premiere Date 3.22.20

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball/McLeod's Coffee House

S15 E23 Length 27:27 Premiere Date 3.15.20

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon

S15 E22 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 2.23.20

Georgetown College President William Jones

S15 E21 Length 27:02 Premiere Date 2.16.20

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

S15 E20 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 2.9.20

Kentucky House Minority Whip Angie Hatton

S15 E19 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 2.2.20

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron

S15 E18 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 1.26.20

Secretary of State Michael Adams

S15 E17 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 1.19.20

Kentucky House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins

S15 E16 Length 22:01 Premiere Date 1.12.20

Ashli Watts - Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

S15 E15 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.5.20

U.S. Attorney Robert Duncan

S15 E14 Length 27:18 Premiere Date 12.15.19

Inclusivity in Fashion - Frankie Lewis; RaeShanda Johnson

S15 E13 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 11.24.19

Dayna Seelig

S15 E12 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 11.17.19

Rachael Denhollander

S15 E11 Length 26:42 Premiere Date 11.10.19

Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland

S15 E10 Length 26:55 Premiere Date 11.3.19

Alice Allison Dunnigan - Pioneering Journalist

S15 E9 Length 26:37 Premiere Date 10.27.19

Sharon Price and Damon Cobble

S15 E7 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 10.13.19

Terry Brooks - Kentucky Youth Advocates

S15 E6 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 10.6.19

Aaron Thompson - Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

S15 E5 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 9.29.19

Opioid Addiction Response and Research

S15 E3 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 9.15.19

Pastor Edward Palmer

S15 E2 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 9.8.19

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

S15 E1 Length 28:14 Premiere Date 9.1.19

Explore KET