General election plan in the works; county clerks say they need it now

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Less than three months to the general election and Kentucky officials still can’t agree on how Kentuckians should vote.

The governor wants more, no-excuse, absentee and mail-in.

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But the secretary of state has concerns about mail-in voting and the costs.

A presidential election, a big senate race and a number of local and state legislative races – Kentuckians have plenty of reasons to know how they are going to vote in November.

“Some absentee balloting, some early voting, and more locations on Election Day, that to me is the most rational way to approach this,” says Secretary of State Michael Adams.

The governor agrees with more polling locations and early voting. Both think early voting should be at least two weeks. But they disagree on absentee voting.

“We need no-excuse absentee voting. That is necessary when you have a worldwide health pandemic out there and you see the type of participation that we had,” said Governor Andy Beshear in Tuesday’s briefing.

Adams and Beshear agreed on the primary, but not now.

“He’s been out there at his press conference everyday calling for a particular system without waiting for the evidence, without waiting for my review to take place first. I think that was a mistake but I’m hopeful he’ll be the same person now as he was in the spring,” says Secretary Adams.

Adams wants to narrow the no-excuse absentee voting and he worries that with an expected 70% turnout, a large mail-in vote would bog down the system – not to mention increase voter errors an risk ballots lost in the mail.

“We can’t have an expanded mail, full mail-in election plus open lots of polling places and the reason is I have very few experts here at the office that know how to do both of those things,” says Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins.

Franklin County Clerk Jeff Hancock says repeating the primary plan for the general would work for him but he knows it might not for the other 119 counties.

“I think that’s what your bigger counties are saying, “I can either do the mail-in or I can do the more locations but I can’t do it all’,” says Hancock.

Hancock says absentee voting worked well. He expects it would in the fall, too.

“I’m hoping we can put that procedure in place with earlier start time, an earlier finish time so we can fix any problems with people who did not follow the directions,” says Hancock.

None of the players are worried about fraud. They say that’s not an issue. Adding locations to drop off ballots also can be done easily. The issue is time – to get a plan now so everyone knows what’s going on.

“We simply can’t get the envelopes here in time. We don’t have enough time to actually physically do it. So the governor and secretary of state really need to get going,” says Blevins.

The secretary hopes to give his plan to the governor before the weekend is over.

One headache that everyone will have to deal with is voter ID and how to handle it with the new voting methods. That’s not something everyone, especially Beshear and Adams, agree on.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.