COVID-19’s impact on the political process

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Almost lost in the coronavirus outbreak, this is an election year.

But you most likely won’t see normal polling in Kentucky’s primary.

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Which has already been moved from May to June because of COVID-19.

ABC 36’s Monica Harkins talked to an associate professor of political science at UK, Stephen Voss about the impact the virus is having on the political process.

“For most people political participation is a social act,” Stephen Voss said.

Voss says if Kentucky’s June primary is mail-in ballot only, which is what the governor has indicated will likely happen because of the coronavirus, it could hurt turnout.

“Like most election reforms intended to increase turnout, the results of mail-in voting have been disappointing,” Voss said.

“It kind of skews participation toward upper status people, people with white collar professional jobs, those are the folks who are in the practice of sitting at desks and pushing paperwork,” he added.

But on the other hand, he says lower turnout isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“It’s not at all clear in a state like this, what effect higher or lower turnout has on the sort of politics of the electorate,” Voss said.

As far as how candidates are campaigning, Voss says there is a downside.

“So, I don’t think the campaigns will be hurt that much in their persuasive behavior in their messaging, they will be hurt in their ability to make people care to mobilize people, and that’s the bad news,” Voss said.

Meanwhile, Governor Andy Beshear has made a point to try and avoid politicizing the coronavirus something Voss believes has been working.

“I think it’s his language choice that has been fairly successful, but Beshear’s managed to find a nice balance between comfort and competence,” Voss said.

With the June primary around the corner, Governor Beshear is working with the Secretary of State to figure out what is the best plan of action, to keep people safe, but also still allow people to exercise their right and civic duty.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com