voting

More Americans voted in 2020 than in any other presidential election in 120 years. About 67% of eligible voters cast ballots this year, but that still means a third did not.

That amounts to about 80 million people who stayed home.

Erica Peterson

After more than a decade, Kentucky resident Guy Hamilton-Smith voted this year for the first time in the state. Even though he didn’t vote in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending his ballot through the mail was still an emotional moment.

“Not being able to vote for many years was like a really big reminder that in very important and meaningful ways, I was not a member of my community,” he said.

Hamilton-Smith was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2007 when he was 22. He hasn’t been under supervision in 10 years.


President-elect Joe Biden received a bigger turnout in the Ohio Valley in 2020 than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. So did his opponent Donald Trump.

In an election that saw historic levels of voting nationwide, Democrat Biden added 3.2% to Clinton’s 2016 vote share in the Ohio Valley while Republican Trump improved 2.4% on his 2016 turnout.

Biden’s increase in vote share outpacing Trump’s gains doesn’t mean that he outperformed Trump. If anything, Trump continued to do well in three states of Ohio Valley: Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. He bagged more than 60% of votes in Kentucky and West Virginia and had 53.3% of votes in Ohio, once a swing state.

Lisa Autry

Secretary of State Michael Adams says the vast majority of election results will be counted and reported on election night, even though some absentee ballots will still be in the mail.

County clerks will have until 11:59 p.m. on election night to report what they have of their vote totals and will have until November 10th to count the rest of their mail-in votes or reach out to voters who made mistakes on their ballots.

On WFPL’s In Conversation on Friday, Adams said he expects results of most races in Kentucky to come Tuesday night.

“We’re going to have all the in-person votes plus almost all the absentees all counted on Election Night reported. So it will be in excess of 90% of the vote. It’ll be enough to project some outcomes in races, most of them,” Adams said.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky election officials are predicting that 70% of registered voters will cast ballots in this year’s General Election — an uptick from the 2016 election, which had 59% turnout.

The presidential election and Mitch McConnell’s race for a seventh term in office have energized voters, who have more options and a longer window to cast ballots this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of State Michael Adams says between 50,000 and 60,000 people cast ballots every day during the first week of early voting, which began last Tuesday.

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As the general election nears, many Kentuckians are choosing to cast their ballots by early in-person voting that began Oct. 13, and runs through Nov. 2. 

There’s one location for early voting in Logan County, the Old National Guard Armory in Russellville that’s now a recreation center owned by the city.

Logan County Clerk Scottie Harper said he has plenty of poll workers who are  keeping things running smoothly.

“I have two clerks signing people in. We have two ballot judges," said Harper. "We have floaters, which are cleaning spaces. We have a machine judge. And then I’ve got 25 privacy booths, which means I can vote 25 people simultaneously.”


Jeff Young

With early voting set to begin in two weeks, state officials still haven’t approved most Kentucky counties’ plans for in-person voting.

Many Kentucky counties plan to have fewer in-person polling locations amid a shortage of poll workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the summer, Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams issued an order allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail if they are worried about catching or transmitting coronavirus and requiring all counties to have early in-person voting starting on October 13.

Evan Heichelbech

Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins says he’s confident his office will be able to handle the election.

But it’s a juggling act.

“I mean if you think about it, we’re running kind of three different kinds of elections simultaneously,” Blevins said. “You’ve got a normal election day, you’ve got early voting in person and now vote by mail again.”

Kentucky normally only allows early voting and mail-in voting with an excuse—voters have to sign an affidavit promising that they’re disabled, ill, in the military or temporarily out of the county.

 


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A University of Kentucky law professor says he still has concerns about the upcoming November election, even though the state saw strong voter turnout during its recent primary

All of Kentucky’s 120 counties are required to create election plans for November 3. These plans will include early voting locations, in-person voting sites, and the number of poll workers.

County election officials also have to prepare to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines for social distancing, sanitation, and have enough personal protective equipment. 

UK law professor Joshua Douglas believes the commonwealth is approaching the election correctly. The state will have options for mail-in voting, early voting, and casting ballots in-person on Election Day.


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Counties across Kentucky are making plans for early in-person voting that begins Oct. 13. 

Election officials are required  to follow federal guidelines for social distancing and other safety precautions to keep voters safe during the pandemic.

Preparations for early voting are moving forward in Pulaski County, where Election Coordinator Mark Vaught said one location has already been determined. 


Kevin Willis

The debate over mail-in ballots and the U.S. Postal Service made its way to Bowling Green Tuesday afternoon.

A small rally in support of the post office was held across from the city’s downtown postal facility on State Street. Those in attendance called on federal lawmakers to make sure the postal service has the funding and technology it needs to handle a high number of mail-in ballots anticipated this fall, including those sent in Kentucky.

President Trump recently said he would oppose a Democratic plan to provide more funding for the postal service, because he opposes efforts to boost voting through the mail. He then softened those comments after coming under intense criticism from Democrats, and even some Republicans. 

Democrats have been advocating for more opportunities to cast ballots through the mail due to the health concerns related to being around large groups of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified 100 years ago this week, and it comprises just 39 words:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams have announced changes to the November General Election that will expand mail-in voting, early voting and give the state more oversight over how many polling locations are open on Election Day.

Gov. Beshear signed an executive order on Friday putting the changes in place.

Unlike the June primary election, when every Kentuckian was allowed to cast a ballot by mail without an excuse, mail-in voting will be allowed for people who are “concerned with contracting or spreading the coronavirus,” the officials said during a press conference on Friday.

WKU Public Radio

Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams say they are close to a bipartisan agreement on how Kentucky’s elections will be run during the November general election.

Beshear, a Democrat, has advocated for all Kentuckians to be eligible to vote by mail, as they were during this year’s primary election. Adams, a Republican, says the election system would be overwhelmed if that happened.

In an interview, Adams said that he expects the state to have “much more robust” in-person voting on Election Day than it did in the primary.

“I don’t think we’re going to have just one location in Jefferson County or Fayette County,” Adams said. “We’re not going to have hundreds and hundreds, but we’re not going to have one or two either.”

Ryland Barton

A group of Black elders affiliated with Black Lives Matter Louisville is calling for more in-person polling places during the November General Election after most Kentucky counties only had one polling place during this year’s primary election.

Rhonda Mathies, a Louisville activist and member of the Voter Engagement Brigade, said that many older Black voters didn’t want to cast ballots by mail and at the same time had trouble accessing the city’s lone polling place at the state fairgrounds.

“We don’t want to see our vote suppressed, and that’s what they’re going to use especially in the Black community. So give us our polls, we need them in our neighborhood,” Mathies said.

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