State pushes absentee voting, gets help from National Guard for in-person polling sites

Posted at 3:06 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 18:06:47-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the coronavirus continues to dominate everyone's daily lives, it's easy to forget that Kentucky has an election coming up.

A few week ago, State officials announced that every registered voter in Kentucky would be allowed to vote in June's primary by mailing in an absentee ballot.

Kentucky normally requires an excuse to vote absentee, but Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams reached an agreement to allow voters to claim a medical emergency because of the coronavirus.

To make the process easier for voters, the state will create an online portal where people can request an absentee ballot. But at Wednesday's coronavirus briefing, the governor said the portal is not done yet.

"I'm waiting for the portal to come up that the Board of Elections is working on and then I will show everyone how to go online and sign up to get their absentee ballot," said Beshear.

All registered voters will also be mailed a postcard with instructions on how to do it.

The governor is encouraging all voters to use this system because it is the safest option. However, he said he understands not everyone can vote by mail, so some in-person polling locations will be available.

But polling locations require poll workers.

That's a problem in Kentucky because most of the state's poll workers tend to be older. That makes them part of high risk category when it comes to the coronavirus.

"We have a lot of poll workers that fall in this vulnerable category," said Beshear. "Just about every poll worker where I used to vote would fall into that category."

So, the governor is calling in some reinforcements to help out. He says the National Guard offered to assist officials during the election.

Gen. Hal Lamberton said National Guard members will help at voting sites. Cyber security professionals will also be available to help election officials protect their online systems from any issues.

Lamberton said mobilizing the National Guard won't be difficult because its members already live all over Kentucky.

“We literally are spread out over the entire state, and I would offer that we probably have soldiers or airmen who live in virtually all 120 of our counties," said Lamberton. "It quite simply is kind of a common sense solution for the issue.”

Kentucky's primary election is scheduled for June 23rd. You can register to vote online until May 26th.

If you choose to vote absentee, all ballots must be postmarked by Election Day. However, the ballots can arrive up to four days later. That way votes can still be counted in case of postal service delays.

Every absentee ballot will also be traced by the state to ensure no fraud is taking place.