By Greg Bird
With the COVID-19 outbreak already pushing the Kentucky Primary Election back by more than a month, more changes in how the election will be held are on the way.
Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams announced last week that plans to allow for more absentee by-mail voting to be used to cast ballots in the election, and to limit in-person voting at polling places.
The Governor issued an Executive Order calling for all registered voters in the state to use absentee voting by mail for the June 23 election if they are able to do so.
County Clerks and local election officials are being directed to reduce the number of in-person polling places for the election. In the active poling places the clerks are to implement procedures to limit contact between voters and poll workers in accordance with social distancing requirements.
“Today’s Executive Order and regulations that will be created by the Kentucky State Board of Elections will allow all Kentuckians who are registered to vote for the upcoming primary to vote by mail through an absentee ballot,” Governor Beshear said in a release announcing the changes. “While there will be significant education and work required, we are committed to making sure this election will be held in a safe manner while we are in this worldwide pandemic.”
Once final details are worked out, registered voters will be notified of the new procedures via postcard, who would then have to apply for an absentee ballot on a state website or by calling their local county clerk. Ballots will be mailed once each voter’s county clerk approves the application. Voters would fill out their ballots and mail them back to their county clerk.
Races appearing on the local ballot this election include primaries for President of the United States, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and Kentucky House of Representatives.
McCreary County Clerk Eric Haynes is still waiting on details before finalizing plans on how to hold the election locally.
He stated he is not in favor of mail-in voting and fears low turnout.
In the 2016 primary election less than 60 McCreary Countians voted via absentee ballot. In last year’s General Election there were fewer than 300 votes cast through absentee voting.