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Ballot length added to long lines in Kentucky this past Election Day

Election 2020 Voting Problems voting booths voting vote
Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 18:35:46-05

(LEX 18) — Kentucky, for the most part, experienced a smooth midterm election. According to Secretary of State Michael Adams, voter turnout was strong, early voting was successful, and "the malefactors who spread misinformation" were debunked.

However, there is some frustration building regarding some of the long wait times voters experienced on Election Day.

On Thursday, Rep. Jason Nemes, the chairman of the Interim Oversight & Investigations Committee, fired his frustrations over the issue at the directors of Kentucky's Board of Elections.

He played a video showing a long voting line in Oldham County and wanted to know why the Board approved the county's plan with not enough polling locations.

"This is voter suppression. That's what this is," said Nemes.

"We asked the Secretary of State to reject this plan. And he took it to the Board of Elections, and you didn't reject the plan," he added. "That's what happened."

Kentucky's election officials agree that more polling locations are needed in some counties.

"The lesson here is that, in 2023, in order to reduce lines, we need more voting locations, not more voting days," said Adams.

However, clerks also point out that other factors contributed to the long wait times this past election day. One big one is the length of the ballot.

"In my 14 years in this job, it's the longest ballot we've seen," said Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny, who serves as president of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association.

"We did see voters googling the ballot and trying to find out something about those constitutional amendments, which increased the length of time voters were taking," added Denny.

Denny says state law allows election officials to use time limits at the voting booth, but he says they don't want to do that to voters.

"In statute, it allows us - the boards and election officers - to enforce a 5-minute limit on marking your ballot," said Denny. "But I don't know too many counties that try to enforce that."

Instead, they hope more voters take advantage of the early voting options that are available.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, more than a quarter-million voters took advantage of early voting. However, more than four times as many voters came out on Election Day.

In Anderson County, Denny says 31% voted early and 69% voted on Election Day.

"A lot of people in line said 'I knew better, I should've used the early days, but I just procrastinated knowing I had [Election Day] to do it,'" said Denny.

"What we're hearing from other states that have done early voting as well as Election Day is 50% come in early and 50% on Election Day," added Denny. "I'm hoping that's where we will trend as more people find out about early voting."