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Mail-In, Early Voting In Kentucky Signals High Voter Turnout

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Ryan Van Velzer
/
WKYU-FM

  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.

“That frees up the Election Day sites. I really, really want to avoid — I think we all do — those being overcrowded for obvious reasons,” Adams said during a State Board of Elections meeting on Tuesday.

According to the State Board of Elections, more than 318,000 people have voted early in person so far and 378,000 mail-in ballots have been received by county clerks.

That’s about 20% of Kentucky’s 3.5 million registered voters.

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot was October 9; more than 658,000 people asked for one. That means with two weeks until Election Day, more than half of absentee ballots have already been returned and counted.

Adams said that’s good news.

“Because of concerns about the post office, we just don’t want anyone to be disenfranchised by waiting too long to get a ballot back, even though they can wait until November 3 if they choose, we’re encouraging them not to do that to go ahead and get them back,” Adams said.

Voters can check the status of their absentee ballot request at GoVoteKY.com.

But those who didn’t request an absentee ballot by October 9 will need to cast a ballot in person, either on Election Day or early.

Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said early voting, which began on October 13 has gone smoothly across the state.

“Early in the morning, there tends to be a little bit of a line when people are lined up waiting to get in, but then they can process through effectively. But we’re seeing practically no wait times in almost every county to be able to get in and cast your vote early,” Dearing said.

Early in-person voting continues Monday through Saturday in every county until Election Day, November 3. Polling places in most counties have changed amid the coronavirus pandemic — voters can find where to cast a ballot in their home county at GoVoteKY.com.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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