Friday is the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election.
Any registered voter in Kentucky who is concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus can request an absentee ballot under an agreement reached by Secretary of State Michael Adams and Governor Andy Beshear.
Ballot requests can be made online at GoVoteKY.com.
Unlike in the June primary, voters will not be allowed to cancel their absentee ballot and vote in-person. Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates says offices like hers were inundated with requests in the primary election.
“It was showing you had already requested a ballot so it wasn't going to allow you to vote in person," Yates told WKU Public Radio. "We were having to go in, physically cancel those ballots, so that person could check in to vote. It was causing chaos in all the clerk’s offices.”
For the general election, if voters request an absentee ballot, that’s how they must vote. Ballots must be returned by mail or dropped off at a designated location, most often at county clerk’s offices.
The U.S. Postal Service has recommended that voters who wish to send their absentee ballot via mail do so at least a week before the election. All absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by county clerks by Nov. 6 in order for them to count.
Kentucky’s chief election officer is predicting 72 percent of registered voters will turn out for next month’s election. By contrast, 29 percent of Kentucky’s electorate cast ballots in the June primary. All Kentuckians were encouraged to vote absentee in the primary due to a shortage of poll workers and voting locations.
Three out of four voters did cast absentee ballots, but in a virtual address this week to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Secretary of State Michael Adams said that can’t be replicated for the general election.
“We cannot handle three-quarters of the vote being absentee in a 72 percent turnout model," Adams stated. "It would crash our system. We’re not designed for that.”
Adams said Kentucky’s election system is built around in-person voting and the state doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle an unlimited number of absentee ballots.
Absentee balloting is being reserved in the general election for those concerned about contracting COVID-19.
Adams said as of Thursday, about 625,000 Kentuckians had requested absentee ballots. That's about 17.5% of registered voters in the Bluegrass State.
Kentuckians will be making their choices for president and a hotly contested U.S. Senate race as well as congressional and state legislative races.