LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Voting is already underway for this month’s primary election, and after the passage of new bills expanding access and security, officials are hoping for higher turnout and confidence in the results.
There are now four ways to cast your ballot in this election, the newest expansion comes to in-person early voting, but there are also more in-person absentee days adding safe options to the choice of mailing in a ballot or coming to the polls on Election Day.
“We used to just have one day, now we have 10,” Secretary of State Michael Adams told FOX 56.
Adams said voting in Kentucky has never been more accessible or secure than now, a belief shared on both sides of the aisle.
“I believe our election security is strong,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Adams believes the cooperation on the issue is unique to the Commonwealth.
“We’ve set a national example, we have almost unanimity among Republicans in Kentucky in a legislature to make voting easier. I’m real proud of that, but on the same token I’m also proud of the Democrats. There’s no other state in the country where Democrats are voting for election security,” Adams said.
This year the General Assembly passed House Bill 564 and Senate Bill 216. Among its provisions, 564 guarantees early voting hours, including a Saturday. Adams said he’s casting a ballot on the first day of early voting.
“That’s not an accident I want to set an example. This is something for 130 years we didn’t do while other states did,” Adams said.
The legislation also puts into law that voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, something that was already office policy that’s now codified into KRS. However, that won’t remain an issue for long because SB 216 begins the transition to paper ballots by 2024. Adams says the reason comes down to a matter of trust and practicality, but both Beshear and Adams contend there has been no election fraud activity to necessitate the changeover.
“We do not have significant election or security fraud issues,” Beshear said.
“There’s a lot of again irresponsible people out there alleging that machines are changing votes. There’s zero evidence of that, but look if we can hold these things accountable, if we can actually look at them and see our vote being accurately counted, I’m all for that,” Adams said.
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For now, the standard machines will remain but 216 also requires constant surveillance after it goes into effect. The deadline to request an absentee ballot has passed but in-person absentee continues now through Wednesday, May 11, provided you have an excuse. No-excuse early voting runs next Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14, before the primary election on May 17.