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Kentucky Voters Citing Virus Concerns Can Vote Absentee In November

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Kentucky will allow any voter concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19 to vote absentee in the November general election. The state will also be expanding early voting and election day voting in a bid to keep any one option from overloading the system.

In the compromise voting plan, any voter, regardless of age or health concern, will be able to request a mail-in ballot.

"That means that either if you are concerned about your own health or you are concerned about those that you come into contact with... you have this option," Gov. Andy Beshear explained Friday.

The decision will be a "subjective" judgment left up to each individual voter. While the state will not be encouraging everyone to exercise the option, an online portal will open up within a week for those who do wish to vote by mail.

Another alternative available to all, starting October 13th, will be early in-person voting.

On Election Day, counties will offer more in-person polling places than in June, when Fayette and Jefferson counties witnessed backups at their single sites. Plans to scale back the polls must be approved by the governor and secretary of state. Each county will also have one voting "super center," where residents from any precinct can vote.

"Our polling sites can't handle everybody voting on Election Day in person," Secretary Adams said. "But we can handle some people mailing it in, some people using the drop box to drop an absentee ballot, some people using the early voting option in person, and some people using the Election Day option in person."

Details of the plan include:

Absentee ballot by mail

  • Kentuckians concerned with contracting or spreading COVID-19 can request a ballot by mail.
  • An online portal will launch within the week to allow Kentuckians to request a ballot by mail. Ballots can be requested through the portal through Oct. 9, and through traditional means after.
  • Mail ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 6.
  • Drop boxes will be available for Kentuckians to return their mail ballots if they are concerned about postal delays. County clerks will determine these locations.

Early voting

  • Beginning Oct. 13, three weeks before the election, every work day between Oct. 13 and Election Day, and every Saturday for at least four hours, every county clerk will provide a location for safe in-person voting.
  • Early voting is not absentee voting – anyone can vote early for any reason.

Election Day voting

  • County election officials will decide election sites on Election Day. The State Board of Elections, Secretary of State and Governor will approve each plan.
  • Every county will have at least one voting super-center, where everyone from the county can go to vote, regardless of his or her precinct.

Voter identification

  • Kentuckians who were unable to get a driver’s licenses or photo ID due to the pandemic because their clerk’s office was closed, or because they were afraid of exposing themselves to COVID-19, can sign a document explaining this concern and cast their ballot.
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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