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The Kentucky Association of Counties

2020 primary election process approved by state board of elections

By Gracie Lagadinos
New guidance for the 2020 primary election announced.

The State Board of Elections held a meeting on May 1 to finalize emergency administration regulations that will guide county clerks’ offices leading up to and on Kentucky’s delayed primary election on June 23rd. The Emergency Regulation was unanimously agreed upon by the board and awaits a signature by Beshear. A timeline of the 2020 primary election dates can be found here.

Gov. Beshear issued an Executive Order on April 24, which outlined agreed-upon steps with Sec. of State Michael Adams for the primary election amid the COVID-19 crisis. The order directs that “all Kentuckians should utilize absentee voting by mail for the June 23, 2020, primary election if they are able to do so.”

As stated in the order, the State Board of Elections was responsible for creating regulations to allow for expanded absentee voting. In addition to mailing each registered voter a postcard outlining the voting changes, the Board will also create an online portal in which voters can log into and request an absentee ballot be mailed to them. This portal will be up and running no later than May 22. 

The order also directs the State Board of Elections to “take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of county clerks and poll workers when direct voting (not by mail) is necessary.” These steps include requiring at minimum one polling location per county, to allow in-person absentee voting beginning June 8, 2020 (suggested by appointment), providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation materials for county clerks and poll workers, and instructing county clerks to limit contact between persons. 

The order also required that these procedures promote a method of contactless voting, such as drive-through voting, to better protect poll workers and voters.

In a letter from Adams to Beshear, Adams summarized decisions made during a State Board of Elections meeting earlier this month. The letter includes details such as “county clerks will conduct in-person absentee voting on June 8-13, June 15-20, and June 22 by appointment.” These locations may be outside of the county clerk’s office; however, the area must be secured and monitored by law enforcement. 

The letter also states that counting of ballots must be “completed by June 30, and no one shall make public any partial election results prior to 6 p.m. local time on June 23.” 

In a recent interview with Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe emphasized: “Due to the virus we had to make a lot of changes, so having the opportunity to really let people know what’s going on, what’s available, what to do now, what to do later, is really super helpful.” As we draw closer to the primary election, KACo will continue to be a resource not only for local officials but will help promote these primary election changes to the public.