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Garrard County voters receive illegible absentee ballot instructions, clerk promises individual help

Posted at 3:22 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 18:20:32-04

LANCASTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Garrard County voter is sounding the alarm after she and her husband received illegible ballot instructions in their 2020 absentee ballot packets.

Sidney Whitaker said she and her husband have voted absentee before so they knew how to fill out their ballots, but they were concerned about others who may run into the same issue.

"People who are voting for the first time, they're going to have a problem with it if the instructions are not clear," Whitaker said.

She was concerned that voters could make mistakes that could cause their votes to not be counted.

For example, several of the hard-to-read lines indicated the following:

  • Mark only one choice for each contest or question. If you are allowed to choose more than one, the ballot will tell you so. If you mark more choices than allowed your vote for that contest will not be counted.
  • Do not detach the flap on the inner envelope. If you do, the ballot will not be counted.
  • Sign your name next to the x on the flap. If you do not sign, the ballot will not be counted.

Whitaker, a Democrat, was hesitant to speak with LEX 18 because she was concerned that her comments would be politicized.

"The republicans saying it's a sham," Whitaker said. "It's a fraud. It's going to be a disaster. The Democrats could construe this as someone doing this on purpose."

However, she wanted to be clear that reaching out to LEX 18 was not politically motivated.

"This doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat," Whitaker. "It doesn't matter because it would be a problem for both sides."

LEX 18 took Whitaker's concerns to the Garrard County clerk, Kevin Montgomery.

He acknowledged that there was an issue with the instructions and that about 100-200 illegible instruction sheets had been sent out in the first batch of 2020 absentee voting packets.

"It was possibly where we had printed so many and we got to the end and the ladies had put them in so fast," Montgomery said.

He said the problem has been fixed and that any voter who receives an illegible ballot can call him directly for help or to request new instructions.

"I want the voter to feel comfortable," Montgomery said. "Anytime anyone, whether that voter or any other voter, has questions they can call me, come see me, stop by the house. Just let me know what the problem is and we can get it fixed."

Whitaker can attest to this promise. She, herself, called Montgomery to complain and he offered to walk her through her entire ballot. He also sent her new instructions, which she received Tuesday.

Montgomery also noted that if a voter does make a technical mistake, like forgetting to sign in one location or detaching and then reattaching the flap on the inner envelope, that the election commission will err on the side of the voter.

Therefore, he is confident the illegible instructions mistake will have little effect on voters' ability to successfully cast their vote.

"I don't think it's going to hinder anybody's vote at all," Montgomery said.

Whitaker, while enthused to know that the commission will err on the side of the voter, said she is still concerned about people who receive the hard-to-read instructions and decide to not bother voting at all.

If you receive these instructions, you can call Kevin Montgomery to get help at (859) 792-3071. You can also visit the office at 15 Public Square # 5, Lancaster, KY 40444 or message the clerk's office on Facebook here.

You can also view a legible version of the instructions below:

It has come to the attention of the Garrard County Clerk's Office that the instruction sheet sent out with the absentee...

Posted by Garrard County Clerk's Office on Friday, September 25, 2020