For over 200 years the office of Secretary of State has played an integral role in Kentucky’s history. The delegates to the 1792 Constitutional Convention, and all three Constitutional Conventions thereafter, realized the importance of having a Secretary for the Commonwealth when they mandated the establishment of such an office. Throughout the years we can see the Secretary of State’s Office accepting additional responsibilities as they are assigned by the Executive & Legislative Branches of Kentucky’s government.

The Timeline serves as an informal history of the office itself. We are including complete text of all four of Kentucky Constitutions (as they were originally written), entries from the Governors’ Executive Journals, and other articles that provide an insight into the history, function and development of the office. The Timeline will be updated as additional information becomes available.

We especially thank Charles Zoeller for his generous donation of the text for each of the Kentucky Constitutions. Mr. Zoeller’s data entry enabled staff of the Secretary of State’s Office to have an excellent foundation for the Constitution project and provided us an opportunity to expand the Timeline with additional information.

Disclaimer: This website includes complete text of all four of Kentucky's Constitutions (as originally written), selected Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly, and other articles regarding the office and function of the Kentucky Secretary of State. Additional information will be added to this site periodically. Text included on this website was keyed by the staff of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office. Although efforts were made to ensure the accuracy of all material, researchers should consult published versions of Kentucky Acts for official use. "Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly” may be researched at the Kentucky History Center Library, the Department for Libraries & Archives, and the Supreme Court Law Library, all in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Note: Acts included on this site may have been amended or rescinded; the information on this site is included for historical research only.)

"Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky", 1861, 1862 & 1863, pgs. 48-49.


An Act regulating holding of elections in insurrectionary districts.

WHEREAS, In a portion of this State the lawful authority of the United States and the State of Kentucky is set at defiance; and within such district a revolutionary government is attempted to be set up, and many people are adhering thereto; as there are, however, within such rebellious part of the State, many loyal citizens who should not be deprived of voting, but who may be by the failure of sheriffs and other officers to discharge their duties; for remedy whereof,

BE it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

SEC. 1. That upon the failure of the sheriff or other officer in said rebellious portions of the State, whose duty it is by law to hold elections, or whose duty it is to appoint officers of elections, or either or any of them, to discharge their respective duties as required by existing laws; and shall fail to open the polls by nine o'clock, A.M., on the day of election, then any three loyal citizens, residents of the precinct in which said election is to be held, and who shall be legal voters under the Constitution and laws of this State, are hereby authorized and empowered to open the polls and receive the votes of such persons presenting themselves as are legal voters. And the person or persons thus holding the election shall make return of the poll-books as now required by law, unless the county officers to whom any such return is required to be made, are in rebellion against the State or national government; in such case, the return shall be made to the Secretary of State, Governor, and Attorney General. Said persons so holding elections shall, in all cases, accompany their return with an affidavit of the failure or refusal of the proper officers to hold said elections; and when said returns are thus made, it shall be valid and binding in all respects as if regularly held under the provisions of the laws now in force. When, under the provisions of this act, returns are made to the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, that would, by existing laws, be made to county officers, then the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, shall constitute an examining board, and shall compare the poll-books, and award a certificate of election to the person receiving the highest number of votes.

SEC. 2. That the persons thus empowered by the provisions of this act to hold elections, shall be governed in all respects by the general laws now in force, so far as the same are applicable, and not in conflict with the provisions of this (act); and they shall be entitled to the same compensation and paid in the same way as similar officers of the law.

SEC. 3. This act shall take effect from its passage.