Reminders: State pushes voting, food benefits

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky has provided literally hundreds of thousands of people with health care and valuable food benefits since the coronavirus outbreak, state officials said Monday.

Meanwhile, absentee ballots are starting to arrive i mailboxes as absentee voting is under way for the Nov. 3 general election. Other deadlines and start dates also are near.

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Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, offered an update on health care and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program Monday during Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily briefing.

“As of today, more than 1.6 million Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid. That’s a little more than one in three (36 percent) Kentuckians. Especially during a pandemic, it is vitally important for people to have health care coverage,” said Friedlander. “We have also provided more than 100,000 households with access to food through SNAP benefits. We are the only state that I know of that has proactively reached out to those who have had to apply for unemployment insurance to see if they are also eligible for other benefits.”

He said eligibility for the program still is based on National School Lunch Program participation. For August and September, eligibility also is based on school start dates and instruction method.

Friedlander said the benefit amounts vary by student and that new cards will be automatically sent out to each child. The cards will be mailed beginning in October, but some children may not receive their cards until the end of November.

He said 541,844 Kentucky students were enrolled in the P-EBT program.

“We provided P-EBT benefits to more than 500,000 children in Kentucky in the first phase,” said Secretary Friedlander. “In the second phase, you don’t have to apply. Over 625,000 children are going to receive meals. We will be sending these benefits to you, sometime in the month of October. If you have questions, you can call 855-306-8959 and select the food benefits option for more information about the cards that will come to you in the mail.”

Meanwhile, Beshear has been encouraging all Kentuckians to make a plan to vote, either by mail, in person during early voting or in person on Election Day.

On Monday, he showed he was taking this advice himself, displaying his own mail-in ballot, which can be requested through the GoVoteKy.com website.

“We are now in the midst of this election. Absentee voting is underway. I have my ballot now,” said Beshear. “Make sure you follow the instructions carefully. Then mail it or drop it in a drop box. And remember, you can register to vote until Oct. 5. You can request an absentee ballot until Oct. 9. After that, early in-person voting begins Oct. 13. But there is no excuse, folks. Voting is a part of who we are as Americans. I want to see a record turnout here in Kentucky.”

The deadline to register online to vote in the 2020 General Election is 4 p.m. local time on Oct. 5. Kentucky residents can register by visiting the state’s Online Voter Registration webpage.

In addition, more than 170,000 Kentuckians have had their voting rights restored because of the executive order Beshear signed days after taking office.

These Kentuckians, convicted of non-violent and non-sexual felonies, who have repaid their debts to society through completed sentences, can participate fully in our democracy. Visit CivilRightsRestoration.ky.gov to check eligibility.