By Jack Brammer

Kentuckians will be able to register online in time to vote in next year's presidential elections, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday.

Grimes, the state's chief election official, also said online registration will allow Kentucky voters to change their information, such as political party affiliation, on their own computers.

Now, Kentuckians may register to vote or change voting information by mail or in person using voter registration cards, which can be downloaded and printed, or can be picked up at local county clerks' offices.

The cards can be mailed or returned in person to the address listed on the form.

The online registration system should be available late this year or early next year, Grimes said.

"Electronic voter registration will truly level the playing field for all eligible voters while simultaneously saving taxpayer money and yielding more accurate records," Grimes said.

She said 29 states and the District of Columbia already have online voter registration.

The state elections board expects the online registration system will cost about $45,000 to $50,000 to implement. Money for it will come from the federal Help America Vote Act Fund.

The board will train county clerks to use the system, at no cost to them.

Earlier this year, the bipartisan board unanimously approved an administrative regulation to allow online registration.

Grimes presented a similar proposal to the state legislature last year, but lawmakers did not act on it.

State Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, criticized Grimes in July for implementing the new registration process by regulation instead of obtaining legislative approval.

Kentucky has had "tremendous success" with electronic registration for Kentucky military and overseas voters, Grimes said. "If it can work in Iraq, it can work for our voters in Inez," Grimes said.

(c)2015 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)