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Could early in-person voting, absentee balloting in Kentucky be permanent?

Posted at 6:25 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 18:25:09-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — With more than two million votes tallied, Kentuckians set a record during this election season.

Some will credit the polarizing nature of the Presidential election while others will give a tip of the cap to the pandemic voting plan devised by Secretary of State Michael Adams.

"Certainly, the plan to make voting convenient has had a lot to do with this election," said LEX 18 Political Analyst Bob Babbage, who oversaw his fair share of elections while serving as Kentucky's Secretary of State.

Adams, a Republican who angered many in his party with this plan, repeatedly said he would devise a plan that he believed would keep his parents and grandparents safe if they wanted to vote in-person and make no apologies for doing such.

"We worked across party lines," he said of his partnership with Gov. Andy Beshear. "We took things that are toxic in other states, like drop boxes, and left them apolitical here."

It seems to have worked. Not only did Kentucky set that record mentioned above, but those who took issue with Adams' plan were not negatively impacted.

"You don't have any voices screaming today, 'It was terrible,'" Babbage said. "So with the popularity of it and the results of the naysayers who won their re-elections overwhelmingly with a great turnout, (it could be something to consider.)"

So, could this exact plan become Kentucky's new norm in the future? Not likely. It costs a lot of money to have polling locations open for three weeks, and printing that many absentee ballots aren't cheap. (Congress picked up that bill this year to assist with the country's pandemic needs). Adams, however, is in favor of keeping some version of this plan.

"The way people live and vote is different in 2020 than it was in 1892 when they passed the code we follow now," he said, before adding that it's time to modernize Kentucky's election process.

Adams thinks some combination of early in-person voting and absentee balloting could become the norm, but on a more streamlined basis.

Whatever he chooses, Adams knows he'll have the support of Kentucky's Governor, who in a tweet late on Tuesday night stated he'd like to see a version of this plan used in the future.

"What we did with this election was done pursuant to emergency powers," Adams said. "I asked the legislature to give the Governor and me to the authority to work jointly to develop a new system. But all of those powers will expire with this election," he added.

Extending those beyond this cycle would have to be part of the legislation.

Since many of Kentucky's lawmakers fared quite nicely due to the plan, maybe it'll be something they will consider.