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No excuse: Kentucky gets in line with mail-in voting

BOE has all the bases covered for June 23 primary
Tuesday is deadline to register to vote for Nov. 7 election in Ohio
Posted at 7:16 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 19:47:24-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced details Friday of a new online primary voting portal.

It allows anyone registered Republican or Democrat to request an absentee ballot. All they have to do is register by May 26 at elect.ky.gov, then request a ballot by June 15 at govoteky.com.

That's a big charge for a state among the least prepared for a mail-in election.

Our partners with ProPublica's Electionland and WCPO 9 News Reporter Larry Seward found that the Bluegrass State is now covering all the bases.

A Vote At Home Institute study grades every state's policy for safe voting. Kentucky was rated one of those least prepared until Beshear signed an order last month. Before that, voters needed an excuse to get a mail-in ballot.

Now, a month before the June 23 primary …

"It has been a really huge logistical change, not just for me, but also my staff," said Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe.

Instead of three people, we saw eight people counting Kenton County ballots. Five-thousand ballots are here already. That's more than double what they get for presidential elections.

"This is not the tradition in Kentucky,” Summe said. “People want to make sure they feel like their vote counted because it went through a machine, and I get that. As a Kentuckian my whole life, I get that. It’s certainly not ideal."

The state election board has an online portal for voters to request ballots to mail. Kenton County is adding a second secure Dropbox.

In addition, Kenton and election boards in neighboring Campbell and Boone counties have been coordinating times for in-person absentee voting by appointment for two weeks starting June 8. That's reserved for people with disabilities and those who cannot receive mail.

But there are plans to turn the Northern Kentucky Convention Center into a big voting precinct for others. For 12 hours on primary day, Kenton County plans to staff in-person voting there with CDC-recommended safety measures to keep voters as safe as can be from coronavirus.

But they prefer people buck tradition and mail it in.

"I know it's really frustrating for people and we're trying our best to accommodate this for everyone," Summe said.