Legislature gives flexibility for elections

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Secretary of State Michael G. Adams thanked state legislators of both parties Wednesday for passing legislation that grants the Governor, Secretary of State and State Board of Elections additional flexibility in the conduct of the 2020 primary election now set for June 23.

Adams testified before a Senate committee, asking for legislation to empower a change to the “manner” of an election in case of a state of emergency. Current state law permits the Governor and Secretary of State to change the “time” or “place” but not “manner” of an election. Adams’ measure would free the State Board of Elections to develop a primary election procedure more open to absentee voting, which may be necessary if the current pandemic continues into the spring.

“It’s my concern, after an exhaustive process of consultation with our county clerks, the State Board of Elections and others, that we need to at least be prepared to have an expanded absentee balloting system available by June 23,” Adams said. “I’d like us to be able to prepare in advance for a situation where we have limited in-person voting and expanded voting by mail.”

Adams ruled out any move to a universal vote-by-mail system, noting a federal judge’s decree that Kentucky’s voter rolls have not been adequately maintained over the past decade, in violation of federal law. Hundreds of thousands of registered voters – including many who have moved out of the state and registered to vote in their new home state – improperly remain on our rolls. To assure legislators that ballot integrity will be safeguarded even with expanded voting by mail, Adams clarified that even with expanded absentee voting, “we would still require people to apply for an absentee ballot, with some sort of verifying information, before they could be mailed a ballot.”

The language as requested by Adams sailed through committee and both chambers today, and now heads to Governor Beshear’s desk.

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