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
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Acts included on this site may have been amended or rescinded; the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.)
Art. I, Sec. 12: Proceedings of the electors of Kentucky's first senators are to be certified and returned to the Secretary as well as the proceedings of the officers chosen to select the electors.
Art. II, Sec. 2: The Secretary shall receive proceedings regarding the electors' choice for Governor.
Art. II, Sec. 8: The Governor shall nominate, and by and with the advice & consent of the Senate, appoint all officers, whose offices are established by this Constitution, or shall be established by law. (Note: This included the Secretary of State.)
Art. II, Sec. 11: The Governor could require written information from the officers in the Executive Department "upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices".
Art. II, Sec. 17: A Secretary shall be appointed & commissioned to serve during the Governor's term in office as long as the Secretary "behaves himself well".
Art. II, Sec. 17: The Secretary shall keep a fair register of and attest all official acts & proceedings of the Governor. Said register, minutes & vouchers were subject to review by either branch of the Legislature. The Secretary shall perform "such other duties as shall be enjoined him by law."
Art. IV, Sec. 3: The Governor & all other civil officers shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office.
Art. VII, Sec. 1: Members of the General Assembly and all officers, Executive & Judicial, are required to take the prescribed oath or affirmation.
SCHEDULE, Sec. 5: Filings prior to the appointment of a Secretary would be received by the clerk of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Note: Names of Delegates to the 1792 Constitutional Convention are included following the text of the Constitution.
The Secretary of State's Office was located on the third floor of the first Capitol Building built in 1793-4 and first occupied on Monday, November 3, 1794.
The salary of the Secretary of State shall be 200 pounds annually retroactive to January 1, 1797.
The salary of the Secretary of State shall be two hundred pounds annually, to commence from the acceptance of appointment and qualifying according to law. The salary shall be paid quarterly.
Art. III, Sec 9: (The Governor) shall nominate, and by & with the advice & consent of the Senate, appoint all officers, whose offices are established by this Constitution, or shall be established by law. (Note: This included the Secretary of State)
Art. III, Sec 12: The Governor could request information (in writing) regarding any subject relating to the duties of officers in the Executive Department.
Art. III, Sec 22: The Secretary of State would convene the Senate for the purpose of choosing a Speaker if the Lt. Governor (Acting as Governor) was unavailable.
Art. III, Sec 24: The Secretary would be appointed & commissioned during the term for which the Governor shall have been elected, if he shall so long behave himself well. He shall keep a fair register, & attest all the official acts & proceedings of the Governor, & shall when required, lay the same and all papers, minutes & vouchers relative thereto, before either house of the General Assembly, & shall perform such other duties as may be enjoined him by law.
Art. V, Sec 3: The Governor and all civil officers are subject to impeachment.
Art. VI, Sec 1: All officers shall take the prescribed oath or affirmation.
Art. VI, Sec 11: All civil officers for the Commonwealth-at-large shall reside within the state.
Art. VI, Sec 15: Election returns for state officials would be filed with the Secretary for the time being.
Art. IX, Sec 1: Election returns for representatives to a constitutional convention would be filed with the Secretary.
SCHEDULE, Sec 5: Election returns for the first election of Governor & Lieutenant Governor under the new Constitution would be filed with the Secretary within 15 days of the election. The Secretary & two Judges would examine & count the ballots and determine the persons duly elected. In the event of a tie, the Secretary & Judges would determine the election by lot.
Note: Names of Delegates to the 1799 Constitutional Convention are included following the text of the Constitution.
The Secretary shall be allowed an additional sum of one hundred dollars.
The salary of the Secretary was increased to $550 annually.
The salary of the Secretary was increased to $600 annually. Additionally, the Secretary, with the assent of the Governor was permitted to employ an assistant "at his own proper costs and charges".
Section 1: In this "Records Management Act", the Secretary of State is authorized to purchase specific office equipment for "containing the books, papers, & Enrolled Bills" filed in his office. The machine for impressing the state seal is to be constructed "as to be convenient for that purpose". Methods for fire control are mandated.
Section 2: The Secretary shall exchange copies of Kentucky's laws for copies of any other state or territory's legislation "in equal proportion". If other states or territories submit bound copies of legislation, the Secretary is authorized to supply bound copies of Kentucky legislation in return.
Section 3: Copies of printed laws of any state or territory of the United States are admissible in any Kentucky court if certified "by the hand and seal of the Secretary of State".
Section 4: The Secretary is mandated to "bind and letter" one complete set of the laws of Kentucky and of the United States. Also, one complete set of the journals of both houses of the legislature & of the U.S. Congress as well as any laws received from other states and territories are to be "half bound and lettered". This legislation requires the outgoing Secretary to generate a listing of bound books in his office then deliver the list to his successor. A "receipt for same" and a copy of the inventory is ordered to be filed with the clerk's office of the Court of Appeals. The Secretary, for the time being, is declared responsible for all books in his custody, accidents excepted.
Section 5: Authorizes payment for all items purchased under this legislation and declares the legislation in effect upon passage.
As the machines used to emboss the Commonwealth Seal and the Secretary of State's seal were destroyed by fire, this legislation enables the Governor to use his private seal to attest state documents and the Secretary of State to use his private seal to attest his official documents until replacement machines were provided.
Sec. 1: The Secretary of State is directed to sell or exchange certain books belonging to the Commonwealth and procure others.
Sec. 2: The "Public Library at the Seat of Government" is to be housed in the Secretary of State's Office. The Library is to be used by legislators and officers of government.
Sec. 3: The Secretary is directed to file such documents in the unfinished business of each session of the General Assembly as are worthy of preservation.
The Secretary of State is directed to send a complete edition of "Littell's Laws of Kentucky" and copies of all legislation passed since 1816 (and forward) to the Secretary of State for the United States.
Art III, Sec 11: (The Governor) may require written information from the officers in the Executive Department regarding any subject relating to their respective offices. (Note: This included the Secretary of State.)
Art III, Sec 20: Should the Lt. Governor as Acting Governor be unavailable, the Secretary of State would convene the Senate for the purpose of choosing a Speaker.
Art. III, Sec 21: The Secretary of State would be nominated by the Governor with the advice & consent of the Senate. The Secretary would serve during the Governor's term "so long as he (the Secretary) behave himself well". He would keep a fair register & attest all official acts of the Governor and perform other duties as required by law.
Art IV, Sec 14: Election returns for Judges & Clerks of the Court of Appeals would be filed with the Secretary of State.
Art V, Sec 3: The Governor & all civil officers were liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office.
Art VIII, Sec 1: All members of the General Assembly & all officers were required to take the prescribed oath or affirmation.
Art VIII, Sec 11: All civil officers for the Commonwealth-at-Large were required to reside within Kentucky.
Art VIII, Sec 14: Election returns were to be filed with the Secretary of State unless otherwise provided in the Constitution or by law.
Art. VIII, Sec 17: The General Assembly prescribed the time the elected or appointed officers entered upon the duties of their respective offices, except where the time was fixed by the Constitution.
Art. VIII, Sec 22. The Constitution mandated the General Assembly to appoint not more than 3 persons, "learned in the law", to revise & arrange Kentucky's civil & criminal Statutes.
Art XII, Sec 1: Election returns for representatives to a constitutional convention were to be filed with the Secretary.
Note: Names of Delegates to the 1850 Constitutional Convention are included following the text of the Constitution.
Sec. 1: The Secretary is authorized to advertise for bids to distribute books.
Sec. 2: The Secretary may distribute books where no bids are given, requiring bond.
Sec. 3: The Secretary may acquire a suitable room for safely storing books, documents, etc.
Sec. 4: The Secretary may draw a warrant for paying the persons employed to transport books, public documents, etc. The amount cannot exceed $1500.
Sec. 5: The Secretary is authorized to furnish to such counties as he can, the books & public documents, etc., contiguous to Franklin County but transportation costs are limited to $5.00 for each county.
Sec. 6: Legislation is effective immediately.
Sec. 1: If precinct officers fail to discharge their duties by 9:00 A.M. during elections, three loyal citizens who are residents of the precinct and legal voters under the Constitution & Kentucky Laws are authorized to open the polls and receive the votes of legal voters. Returns shall be made to county election officers; if those county officers are in rebellion against the State or national government, returns shall be made to the Secretary of State, Governor and Attorney General. The Secretary of State, Governor, and Attorney General comprise an examining board to compare the poll-books and award a certificate of election to the person receiving the highest number of votes.
Sec. 2: The legislation is effective immediately.
Sec 68: The Governor & all civil officers are liable to impeachment.
Sec 73: The Governor's term commences on the 5th Tuesday succeeding his election. (Note: The retiring Secretary of State initiates the Journal & files Executive Orders for the newly-elected Governor due to the difference in inaugural dates.)
Sec 78: The Governor may require information, in writing, from Executive Officers (including the Secretary of State) upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.
Sec 84: Records Disability of Governor in Journal (Register). (Note: See present Constitution for this amendment to the 1891 Constitution.)
Sec 87: Convening the Senate to choose a President pro tempore; serving as Acting Governor. (Note: See present Constitution for the 1992 amendment regarding transfer of power.)
Sec 88: Records Governor's Veto Messages in Journal (Register).
Sec 91: The Secretary of State's term commences the first Monday in January after his election.
Sec 91: Attests Governor's Official Acts.
Sec 91: Qualifications (at least 30 years of age & a resident of Kentucky two years prior to election).
Sec 91 & Sec 93: Election of & Duties (including maintaining Governor's Journal).
Sec 91 & Sec 93: Term of Office (Note: See present Constitution for the 1992 amendment regarding successive terms.)
Sec 93: Fees Collected are Paid into State Treasury.
Sec 95: The first election for Secretary of State will be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, 1895, and the same day every four years thereafter.
Sec 96: Secretary of State shall receive a salary.
Sec 152: Vacancy in office.
Sec 171: Receives Referendum Petitions.
Sec 190: Filing of Corporations' Acceptance of Kentucky's 1891 Constitution. (See present Constitution for 2002 amendment.)
Sec 224: Public Officials' Bonds to be determined by the General Assembly.
Sec 228: Secretary of State's Oath of Office.
Sec 234: All civil officers for State-at-Large shall reside within the State.
Sec 235: Salary of public officers not to be changed during term of office; deductions for neglect.
Sec 245: Governor shall appoint 3 persons, learned in the law, to revise Kentucky Statutes to conform to the 1891 Constitution.
Sec 256: Receives Election Returns regarding Constitutional Amendments.
Sec 257: Publishes proposed Constitutional Amendments.
Sec 258: Duties regarding the calling of a Constitutional Convention.
Sec 263: Publication of Notice of Election for Constitutional Conventions.
SCHEDULE: The Governor elected in 1891 may appoint a Secretary of State. (See Section 95 regarding the election of the Secretary of State in 1895.)
Note: Names of Delegates to the 1891 Constitutional Convention are included following the text of the Constitution.
Sec. 2: The Seal of the Commonwealth, described in Section 1, shall be kept by the Secretary of State.
Sec. 2: A seal for use by the Secretary of State is authorized and described in this Section.
Sec. 3: The Secretary of State shall use the Commonwealth Seal to attest acts of the Governor. The seal will be used to attest official acts of the Secretary but the Commonwealth Seal may also be used if necessary.
Sec. 4: The cost for affixing the seal of the Commonwealth is set at $2.00. No fee shall be collected for affixing the seal to a commission issued to any public officer of this State, or to a (land) grant, or to a pardon of a felony.
Secretary of State Drexell Davis assumed the duties of Governor from April 13, 1978, to April 14, 1978.
Acting Secretary of State Clinton H. Newman II served from April 13, 1978, to April 14, 1978, under this transfer of power from Acting Governor Drexell R. Davis.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced 8241 County Court Order Patent Files (or 33,392 pages) are now available online.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced new online service to access Enacted Legislation.
At the Flag Day Luncheon of the John Marshall Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced selected Revolutionary War Patents are now available online.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced the launch of the Governor's Executive Journal website.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced the launching of the newly redesigned website for the Kentucky State Board of Elections.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced Kentucky business entities can access Annual Report Forms online.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced the launching of the newly-designed office website at http://sos.ky.gov.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced internet availability of early Lincoln County Entries linked to scanned images, images of recently discovered Land Commissioners' Certificates, easier access to the Kentucky Counties Formation Database, and other additions to the Land Office website.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced the Secretary of State's website offers translations into six new languages.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced international recognition of the newly-designed office website.
Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson & New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron announced their states' participation in a project designed to protect voters from fraudulent websites.
The Office of the Kentucky Secretary of State set a new record for candidate filings during an election season.
The Kentucky General Assembly & Secretary of State Trey Grayson partnered to eradicate election fraud.
In a press release Secretary of State Trey Grayson commended the Commonwealth's history of advanced election administration and dedicated election officials for implementing the changes required by HAVA that will be seen at the May 2006 Election Primary.
Citizens can now receive a near instantaneous notification of candidates filing for political office via e-mail or the "Really Simple Syndication" service. Interested individuals can sign up to receive notification on a single race, multiple races, or all races. The service is free.
On January 7, 2011, Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced he had accepted the directorship of Harvard University's Institute of Politics. He also announced his resignation as Secretary of State would be submitted to Governor Beshear shortly before January 31.
On January 7, 2011, Governor Steve Beshear announced he would appoint Mayor Elaine Walker, Bowling Green, as Secretary of State upon receipt of Grayson's resignation.
As the resignation occurred within twelve months of the forthcoming general election for the office of Secretary of State, no special election was necessary. The vacancy was filled by gubernatorial appointment pursuant to Section 152 of the Kentucky Constitution.