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KY voters must wait until Monday to ask for mail ballots

Kentucky voters will have to wait until Monday to go online to request a mailed-in absentee ballot to vote in this fall’s election and should not expect to get a requested ballot until mid to late September.

Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said Thursday after a special board meeting to adopt emergency regulations for the Nov. 3 election that the “full” launch of the online portal to request an absentee ballot will be delayed a few days to “make sure it’s fully operational.” It was to start Friday.

The online address for the portal will be govoteky.com. It is to close 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 9.

The ballots can be returned in the mail with postage paid by the state or dropped in a box designated by county clerks.

Secretary of State Michael Adams said the reason ballots will not be mailed out until mid September is because Sept. 4 is the deadline for all candidates to be formally recognized for the ballot.

He noted that the Democratic National Convention did not formally choose its presidential nominee, Joe Biden, until Wednesday night and that Republicans will not officially nominate their expected nominee, Donald Trump, until next week.

Adams also said independent candidates may want to file to get their names on the ballot. The Nov. 3 general election will feature races for the president, U.S. Senate, Congress, state legislature and several judgeships.

Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Adams, a Republican, announced a plan last Friday for the Nov. 3 general election that will allow anyone wary of COVID-19 to request and mail their absentee ballot.

Other options to vote in the fall election will include casting a ballot in person at designated polling places on Nov. 3 or voting in person during the three weeks leading up to the election.

Beshear and Adams are expected to hold a news conference Friday or Monday to explain in detail the various emergency regulations for the Nov. 3 ballot that are needed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The elections board on Thursday voted 7-1 to approve 25 pages of regulations. Chairman Ben Chander called some of them “complicated.”

The only vote against them was member James Lewis, who was unsuccessful in getting the board to delete a regulation.

Lewis opposed a provision requested by the political parties that says the state elections board shall be required to produce to any duly qualified candidate, political party or organization committee for a one-time fee of $3,500 the names of those voters who have completed an application for a mail-in absentee ballot, turned in an absentee ballot and those that have voted in-person before Nov 3.

Members Lewis and Lynn Lane voted for Lewis’ motion while the six other board members voted against it.

Lewis said that the provision was not necessary. He earlier had voiced concerns about keeping all ballots secret.

Board chairman Ben Chandler said he considers the provision “useful in this emergency” and noted that the two major political parties these days rarely agree on anything. Adams said ballots will be kept secret.

The provision apparently is designed to save the political parties money by not sending out campaign advertising to people who already have voted.

Jack Brammer is Frankfort bureau chief for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He has covered politics and government in Kentucky since May 1978. He has a Master’s in communications from the University of Kentucky and is a native of Maysville, Ky.
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