Jason S. Belcher | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Jason S. Belcher

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What is your vision for strengthening civic participation in Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you are elected?

My vision is encapsulated in three words:  Stand Together Kentucky.  The cornerstone of the idea is that we are all ambassadors.  When we speak to someone who has a different political view than we do, or who belongs to a different group than our own, whether we know it or not we are an ambassador.  Being a good ambassador means speaking with respect and listening to what the other person is saying.  Spreading the Stand Together Kentucky philosophy across the state will be my first step.  The second step is growing the E-Commonwealth, which means leveraging technology to facilitate not just voting but civic discourse.  We have a vending machine model of government right now, which means we insert money in the form of taxes and hope to get services in return.  But instead of a broken vending machine what we want is a modern online platform, and that is what the E-Commonwealth will deliver.  An E-Commonwealth means faster and more efficient government services.

Question 2: 

How does your background qualify you for serving in this office? Please provide examples of your advocacy to protect and promote civic engagement in Kentucky.

I proudly served on active duty as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force for ten years including a deployment to Iraq in 2006.  I was on active duty on September 11, 2001; I fought to protect my country and I will fight to defend Kentucky's institutions and basic democratic norms. The leadership experience I gained as a commander along with the values of integrity, service, and excellence have well prepared me to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Secretary of State.  As a community columnist for the Lexington Herald Leader I have repeatedly written of the need for better civic education and more civility in our political dialogue.  The positive response I received from those columns indicated to me the idea resonated across Kentucky. I would continue those efforts as Secretary of State.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages and other election reforms? Please explain.

I believe the purpose of government is to protect and serve the people, not the other way around. I support early voting, mail-in ballots, and extended hours at polling locations. The onus is on the government to facilitate voting in as many safe and expedient means as possible.  Research indicates that people who become U.S. citizens after legally immigrating from abroad know enough English to pass the citizenship test, rendering the need for multiple language ballots unnecessary.   For modernizing elections laws, consider the following question: why can't we vote from our smartphones?  People in Estonia can vote via the internet, but not in Kentucky.  There would be a series of action steps required for us to get there, and cyber security would be of paramount importance, but if we don't have the courage to take those first steps we will never cross the finish line.  In 2019, people can buy a house via their smartphone and receive diagnosis for medical conditions through facial recognition technology.  Electronic voting is achievable, and to our advantage because it will increase participation, especially among younger voters.   I would work to make Kentucky a national leader in e-voting without compromising our security.

Question 4: 

If you become Secretary of State, what will you do to increase voter registration and turnout?

I would work to increase the number of options available to Kentucky voters to exercise their right to vote.  I would work to bring about automatic voter registration and same day registration, which research has shown increases voter participation by giving voters more flexibility.  I would engage our citizens with the E-Commonwealth platform both to get their input on potential solutions and problem solving and to increase their enthusiasm for the overall process.  As a businessman I understand good customer service increases not only customer satisfaction but the likelihood of repeat business; by the same token increasing the level of involvement by citizens on the E-Commonwealth platform will make it more effective and widely embraced.

Question 5: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to the tens of thousands of Kentuckians with felonies in their past who have completed their sentence? Please explain.

I do not support restoring voting rights to violent felons who have committed crimes such as murder, rape, or deadly assault.  I am open to the idea of restoring rights for individuals who were convicted of non-violent, non-drug related offenses and have satisfactorily completed their sentences.