UPDATE: Adams OK’s Fayette voting plan, still worried about polling places

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UPDATE POSTED 2:35 P.M. OCT. 7, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Secretary of State Michael Adams has approved Fayette County’s election plan with eight polling locations but will monitor early voting to see whether more in-person locations may be needed Nov. 3.

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Monday, County Clerk Don Blevins encouraged more people to request and vote by absentee ballots or take advantage of in-person early voting which starts next week to avoid a crush that might overload the eight precincts on Nov. 3, election day.

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Adams expressed the same concern. Fayette County’s plan still must be signed off on by Gov. Andy Beshear.

“I wish Fayette County had more places to vote,” Adams says. “We’ve got tiny counties in the state that have more voting locations than Fayette.”

However, Adams says, for now, he’s confident in the county’s eight early voting locations.

Clerk Don Blevins Jr. announced Monday he’d add two more to the original six to satisfy Adams.

“35-percent of registered voters in Fayette County have requested an absentee ballot,” Adams says. “We expect about 70-percent turnout, so roughly half the vote in Fayette is going to be absentee.”

Adams says he’ll be closely watching how many people vote early to see if the county will have to add more in-person voting locations on Election Day.

Some people were concerned during the June primary. There was one polling spot in the county, Kroger Field, and some people had to wait in long lines in the rain.

“You’re going to have long lines Election Day, that’s standard,” Adams says. “I just don’t want them to be so long that people turn around and go home.”

Adams says he hopes the county won’t have to add more polling places.

“My hope is the 8 sites opened for 19 days should be adequate.”

Early voting starts Tuesday, October 13 until Monday, November 2.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Friday, October 9. Governor Andy Beshear gave a tutorial on Tuesday on how to fill it out. He’s just one of several leaders suggesting that no one waits until the last minute.

“If you’re requesting it now, you very much want to consider putting it in a drop box as opposed to just putting it back in the mail,” Beshear said.

Also, a partnership between Adams and VotingWorks will allow visually impaired Kentuckians to vote absentee without assistance for the first time ever in the state. The deadline to request an accessible absentee ballot is Friday, October 9.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED OCT. 5, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With the deadline to do so Friday, Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins is encouraging voters to request absentee ballots.

The push comes as Blevins worries more people are opting to vote in person this year, potentially straining polling places, even with two new sites announced Monday.

The two new sites are Garrett Morgan Elementary at 1150 Passage Mound Way and Wellington Elementary at 3280 Keithshire Way. Last week, Secretary of State Michael Adams was critical of the county’s voting plan, saying the county didn’t have enough in-person locations.

Adams even got involved publicly, tweeting how he had “productive” conversations with Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk about the possibility of using schools as sites, something Blevins had said might be difficult because of COVID precautions.

Blevins said the work began well before Adams spoke out.

“When the State Board finalized the regulations for the General Election, my first call was to Dr. Manny Caulk, Superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools. We have been in touch for six weeks, trying to find a way to balance the need for in-person voting and reopening the schools,” Blevins said.

“On Monday, Sept. 28, the school board updated their COVID plan for the school system. This created a window for two schools to be used for in-person voting,” Blevins added, jointly announcing the two new sites with Caulk.

These two schools were chosen by geographic location, as they are best positioned to take on some of the voting load. Garrett Morgan will help with the Hamburg area, and Wellington helps with the Nicholasville Road corridor, Blevins explained.

They will serve in the same capacity as the other locations, although they will not have drop boxes.

“While this helps a lot, we are still handcuffed by the unusual circumstances in Lexington. We still need for most of us — 70 percent or more — to vote by mail, and we are not there yet,” Blevins continued.

The official election information page is lexingtonky.gov/vote.

“I think we’re already handcuffed with the low number of locations, so anything we can add helps relieve the pressure,” he told the Herald-Leader newspaper.

With the two elementary schools, the county now will have eight in-person locations. The six previously announced are:

  • Tates Creek Branch Library, 3628 Walden Dr.
  • Northside Branch Library, 1733 Russell Cave Road
  • Beaumont Branch Library, 3080 Fieldstone Way
  • Dunbar Center, 545 N. Upper St.
  • Lexington Senior Center, 195 Life Lane
  • BCTC Leestown Campus, 164 Opportunity Way

The last day to request absentee ballots is Friday, Oct. 9. In-person early voting starts Tuesday, Oct. 13.

According to the Herald-Leader, about 83,000 Fayette County residents have requested absentee ballots as of Monday. Blevins hopes that number gets to more than 120,000, enough to take some of the in-person load off what is expected to be a record turnout, he has said.

Blevins said his office has sent out about 79,000 ballots and about 20,000 have been returned so far, according to the newspaper.

Four years ago, 136,000 Fayette County residents voted in the presidential election and Blevins has said previously he thinks that number will easily be exceeded this year.

“I’m hopeful folks will get on it this week and go out and request,” Blevins told the newspaper.