FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – Kentucky’s elections will be expanded under a new bill signed by Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday. It’s one of multiple voting reforms delivered to his desk, but another earned a veto.

Secretary of State Michael Adams has publicly supported House Bill 564. The new law expands early voting in Kentucky and guarantees protections for poll workers, but Beshear also vetoed Senate Bill 216 despite it having bipartisan support.

“You’ll have 6 days of in-person absentee voting before those 4 days start, so a total of 10 days to vote,” Secretary Adams told FOX 56.

A year after Kentucky took the first step to expand early voting, now more days are on the calendar. The bipartisan trend of election reform is a rarity in Kentucky compared to the rest of the nation.

“Republicans in Kentucky have the luxury, if they choose to take it, of being a little more cooperative a little more bipartisan because they have such commanding lead and when it comes to voting access, they’ve not acted like some of the state Republican parties in other states that have been more restrictive,” UK Professor Stephen Voss told FOX 56. Voss specializes in elections and voting behavior.

Adams said this law added the clarity needed to ensure all polling places are open at least 8 hours for early voting including a Saturday.

“So for example if the clerk is not open on Saturday or they close early – not anymore for purposes of voting,” Adams said.

The bill also makes it a felony under Kentucky law to threaten election workers.

“We’ve seen a lot of hate and abuse, even death threats against me, my staff, and others in this business and so we want to make sure those people have protections,” Adams said.

Another bill advocated by Adams was Senate Bill 216. It would move up the state’s transition to paper ballots to 2024. Beshear vetoed that bill Friday afternoon.

“There are flaws with paper voting, there are flaws with electronic voting, and every time we feel there is something wrong, we switch again and obviously that adds a lot of expense and instability,” Voss said. Voss explained this can sometimes be determined by the speed these changes are made.

Adams released the following statement after Beshear vetoed SB 216.

“Despite my respect for Governor Beshear, I am very disappointed with his veto of Senate Bill 216. This measure doubles the number of counties subject to post-election audit; moves up to January 1, 2024, full transition to universal paper ballots statewide; and places voting machines under video surveillance during non-voting hours of election periods. These are nonpartisan, common-sense reforms that will improve our election process, as well as public confidence in that process.

Just yesterday, the Governor noted, rightly, that election policy ought to be made in a bipartisan fashion. Well, every single Democratic senator voted for this bill, along with 27 Republicans. More House Democrats voted for it than against it as well. If the Governor will not be part of bipartisan policy-making, he at least ought not to obstruct it. Following his rejection of this bipartisan agreement, I hope all of these legislators will vote in bipartisan fashion to override his unfortunate veto.”

Secretary of Michael State Adams