Public employees hurt taxpayers by misusing voting time

Published 11:06 am Monday, December 18, 2017

Voting in this country is a privilege and a civic responsibility.

While no one is required by law to vote in this country, we believe every citizen should do so during every election cycle. Some people might say their vote doesn’t count, but we would counter that argument by saying it absolutely does. One only has to look at the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary in Kentucky, which was decided by only 83 votes. That narrow margin proves that every vote does, in fact, matter. Had more people come out and voted, we might have a different Republican governor today. This is not a slight against Gov. Matt Bevin – it’s just a fact.

A lot of people like to complain about certain politicians or laws that are enacted, but then when you ask many of them if they voted, they say they don’t vote. They certainly have the freedom of speech to whine about who gets elected to certain offices, but we would argue that those who exercised their right to vote don’t need to take them seriously.

Email newsletter signup

Having said that, it is beyond alarming to learn of a recent audit conducted by state Auditor Mike Harmon that showed that more than 1,100 public employees claimed paid leave to vote in Kentucky elections but did not cast a ballot. Harmon said in a statement that his office reviewed the use of election leave during the 2015 general election and the 2016 primary election. The 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.

This is a total outrage. These are public employees who essentially lied to their employers by saying that they were going to vote and didn’t vote, yet still used four hours of time to do whatever they chose to do – besides voting, of course – on the taxpayers’ dime.

Harmon 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.

We’re very glad Harmon conducted this audit and exposed this large number of public employees for not being truthful about voting and wasting taxpayers’ money. Those involved in this deserve to be disciplined and we would like to see them pay back the state for services not rendered during the hours in question.

Daily News of Bowling Green