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Election Plans From Most Kentucky Counties Still Not Approved

Evan Heichelbech

Kentucky’s local election officials have begun submitting plans for how they will conduct in-person voting during the upcoming General Election, but only plans from 26 of the state’s 120 counties have been approved so far.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams are allowing anyone who wants to cast ballots by mail to do so and no-excuse early voting will be available in every county starting Oct. 13.

But for most counties, it’s still unclear how many in-person polling locations will be available in each county, or where they’ll be.

The State Board of Elections approved plans from the first batch of counties on Tuesday, most of them small and medium-sized counties.

Secretary of State Michael Adams said that there is still plenty of time for election plans to be finalized.

“I can certainly tell you we made a lot of progress, our state has, in adding more in-person voting opportunities compared to where we were back in the primary,” Adams said.

The state’s largest counties by population have not submitted plans to the state yet, Adams said. The deadline is Sept. 30.

Adams said that the only county he had approved to only have one polling place was Nicholas County, which normally has two polling places.

In making changes to Kentucky’s election process during the pandemic, Beshear and Adams required all local election plans to be reviewed by their offices.

The officials said that the approval process would ensure that all counties had enough in-person polling places—a point of criticism during Kentucky’s primary election, when nearly all counties had only one polling place.

Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said that his staff is working with some counties to improve their plans.

“We have been encouraging counties to open up as many as they feel they have the capacity to open up as well as the safety to be able to do,” Dearing said.

“Some counties have been having problems locating buildings and spaces for precinct locations and they’re still continuing to recruit poll workers as well.”

Meanwhile the State Board of Elections is in the process of fielding requests for mail-in ballots through its website,

Voters have until October 9 to request a mail-in ballot, which has to be mailed back by Nov. 3 or put in a drop box at their county clerk’s office.

The counties whose voting plans were approved on Tuesday are Adair, Allen, Butler, Campbell, Carlisle, Fulton, Grayson, Henry, Hopkins, Jackson, Jessamine, Knott, Larue, Lee, Lincoln, Lewis, Lyon, McCracken, McClean, Marion, Menifee, Perry, Scott, Spencer, Todd and Trimble.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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