Richard House started working at the Daviess County Courthouse when he was 19 years old. For the last 26 years he’s proudly served the community through various roles there, but later this month he’ll be working in Frankfort as the new assistant director for the State Board of Elections.
The state board’s duties include ensuring Kentucky’s compliance with federal and state election laws, providing and maintaining the statewide voter registration database, appointing county board of elections members, and training county clerks.
House said the outgoing board director reached out and told him to look into the role, and on Dec. 16 the board selected House as assistant director. The move became official Monday.
House said it will be bittersweet to leave his Daviess County office for the one in Frankfort.
“I’ve grown up at the courthouse,” he said. “I started when I was 19 years old. I’ve gotten married while I’ve worked here. I’ve raised my children while I’ve worked here. And I’ve just made a lot of friends and seen a lot of changes over the years. It’s happy, but it’s kind of sad too. It’s gonna be different, but this day was gonna come sometime. It just happened that this was the path that I’m going down.”
House started out filing voter cards when he was 19. Then he ran a cash register for the automobile department, later learning how to do transfers and renewals. In 2002 he became supervisor of elections. In 2007 he became chief deputy clerk, a role he has held since.
House said his favorite aspect of the job has been helping others and working with different departments to make things happen.
“I’ve gotten to help with a lot of amazing things,” he said. “I actually got to work with Senator Mitch McConnell’s office to get a Vietnam veteran a passport so he could go back to Vietnam. I’ve worked with Congressman Brett Guthrie’s office to get passports for people that were in dire need. I’ve gotten to work with the city and the county government to run those elections that happened last year.”
The State Board of Elections consists of the Secretary of State Michael G. Adams, who serves as the chief election official, and eight members appointed by the governor. Day-to-day operations are carried out by an Executive Director, an Assistant Director and a bipartisan staff.
House said one of their main objectives will be proving to people that the election is run with integrity and transparency.
“I think we’re going to have to make sure that we educate people on the process, what all goes into it,” he said. “You go out here in the public, and they’ll say ‘they’re presetting voting machines to have an outcome.’ But they don’t realize how many steps and how many processes go into place, and how many public checks where people can watch the setting of the voting machines and the chain of custody. All this education of trying to educate people on what goes into the process to make sure that they understand that this is not something (that is rigged).”
He said they’ll also figure out how to implement some of the new methods used during the 2020 election for the one coming up next year.
“We just went through this election where everything changed,” House said. “This next election cycle is going to have voting centers. The state wants to keep parts that people liked in the last election, like voting centers and early voting and things like that. This is going to be the first time it’s going to be implemented on a grand scale of a full election. That’s going to be a challenge because you’re gonna have to think through all the problems that we haven’t thought of yet, and solve all of those issues.”
House thinks he will be a valuable asset as the board prepares to implement any changes.
“I’m pretty good at problem solving so I hope I can bring that to the organization,” he said. “Plus, I have been in the clerk’s office for 26 years so I think some of my experience that I’ve had in running elections on a local level will help at a state level. There’s a lot of challenges out there that are going to be facing us but hopefully we will get through them.”