FRANKFORT The State Board of Elections on Friday approved a plan to allow every Kentuckian to cast an absentee ballot for Primary Election due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The action, taken in a teleconference to observe social distancing, follows an executive order issued Friday morning by Gov. Andy Beshear, upon the recommendations sent to him by Secretary of State Michael Adams.
The order states that “All Kentuckians should utilize absentee voting by mail for the June 23, 2020 Primary Election, if they are able to do so.”
SBE Executive Director Jared Deering said under the emergency regulation, a secure website portal will be created to allow voters to apply for absentee ballots by mail. “The State Board of Elections shall send a nonforwardable postcard to each registered voter, informing voters of the ability and the process to vote absentee by mail.”
Voters could also cast absentee ballots in person, by making an advance appointment with their local clerks and observing social distancing.
Ben Chandler, the State Board of Elections Chairman, said, “The goal of this is to keep people safe and to make sure everyone gets to vote.”
Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams called it a very good agreement reached with the Democratic Governor. “I don’t actually see Russia as the biggest threat to our elections right now. I see partisanship as the greatest threat to our elections. Gamesmanship between different branches of government going after each other.”
He said that’s not what has happened in Kentucky. “We’ve acted two months in advance, reached a deal that provides clarity to Kentuckians. Our clerks, the voters, everyone that is affected. This is a great day for democracy.”
“Today’s Executive Order and regulations that will be created by the Kentucky State Board of Elections will allow all Kentuckians who are registered to vote for the upcoming primary to vote by mail through an absentee ballot,” said Governor Beshear. “While there will be significant education and work required, we are committed to making sure this election will be held in a safe manner while we are in this worldwide health pandemic.”
The regulation includes a June 15 deadline for voters to apply online for the absentee ballots. After that date, they would have to contact the county clerk, and arrange to pick up their ballots at a drive-up location.
Mail-in ballots would have to be postmarked June 23 and be received by June 26 or 27. Voters would also be given a chance to correct any errors by June 28 or 29.
The aid in counting the ballots, county boards of election would be able to name a commission of at least three members with both major political parties represented.
On election night, June 23, partial totals will be released, with the final totals ready to be certified by the SBE on June 30.
Any candidate wanting a recanvass of the results in a close race, would have until July 7 to make the request.
The Board gave unanimous approval to the framework of the plan, but members will examine it more closely over the weekend, then take a vote on the final version at a special meeting to be held early next week.