FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — While states like Georgia face criticism over their new election laws, Kentucky is receiving praise for its election reform.
"When much of the country has put in more restrictive laws, Kentucky legislators - Kentucky leaders - were able to come together to stand up for democracy and to expand the opportunity for people to vote," said Gov. Andy Beshear.
Beshear signed House Bill 574 in Frankfort on Wednesday morning. It's a measure Democrats and Republicans support.
- Creates three days of early in-person voting, including a Saturday, with no excuse required
- Enhances the ability of state election officials to remove nonresidents from Kentucky's voter rolls
- Creates a paper trail for all ballots
- Keeps the online portal for absentee ballots
- Establishes vote centers
- Bans ballot harvesting
- Retains the signature cure process to help resolve issues with absentee ballots
"While other states are caught up in partisan divisions, here in Kentucky, we're leading the nation in making it both easier to vote and harder to cheat," said Secretary of State Michael Adams.
Prior to the pandemic, Kentucky had some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Even with the expansions included in HB 574, Kentucky's voting laws are still considered more restrictive than those passed in other states. Some of the components of the bill are even more restrictive than those found in Georgia's controversial law. However, some components are better than those in Georgia's law.
So, why is Kentucky receiving praise while Georgia receives criticism?
Election law expert Josh Douglas tells LEX 18 News the important thing to consider is "the context in which each was passed and the goals of each one." Georgia's motivation is being questioned by many while Kentucky's motivation is not. It was a bi-partisan effort to make it easier for Kentuckians to vote.
So even though Kentucky's voting laws may not be where some people want them to be, Kentucky took steps to help people vote.
"Today Kentuckians got more access to the ballot box. Now, did I want more in this bill? Yes, I did. I believe we need no-excuse absentee ballots. I think we proved we can substantially increase access without any fraud concerns," said Beshear. "But listen, this is a session that we saw a lot of battles in and to be able to come together and at least expand in part our access to the ballot box is a win for Kentuckians"