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Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams provides update on primary election voting procedures

This interview is part of Kentucky Tonight episode “2020 Primary Election Candidates, Part Four“, which originally aired on June 8, 2020. Watch the full episode.

In-person voting and absentee balloting are now open to Kentuckians for the June 23 primary elections.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams says more than 500,000 registered voters have already requested absentee ballots. In-person voting at county clerk’s offices around the commonwealth started on Monday. The new election procedures are part of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve actually expanded options to make this both safe and convenient for people,” he says.

Adams says any registered voter can request an absentee ballot to vote in the primaries by visiting The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 11:59 p.m., Monday, June 15.

Completed absentee ballots can be returned by mail in the envelopes provided, or you can place them in a secure drop box at your county clerk’s office. Ballots must be received by June 23 if delivered, or postmarked by that date if mailed. Adams says absentee ballots with the proper postmark date will be counted through Saturday, June 27, but he encourages Kentuckians to vote earlier if they can.

“If you know who you’re going to vote for, go ahead and get it done,” says Adams, “because the longer it takes us to get these ballots back, the longer it takes for us to count them.”

When completing your absentee ballot, be sure to use either blue or black ink. Adams also reminds people to sign both the inner and outer envelopes, which he says is part of the procedure that will maintain election integrity.

If you prefer to vote in person, you can make an appointment to vote at your county clerk’s office through election day. In-person voting will also be available on June 23, but Adams says voting sites will be limited to only one location per county due to concerns about pollworker and voter safety during the pandemic.

“I am sympathetic to the argument that we need more polling locations,” says Adams. “ I asked for that but I was overruled, unfortunately, by the state Board of Elections and the [county] clerks. By law they get to make those decisions.”

Adams adds that people will not be required to make an appointment to vote on primary day, but he says some county clerks are encouraging it as a way to better control crowds at voting sites.

Most urban voters and up to half of rural voters are expected to vote absentee, according to Adams. He says some 50 percent of Kentuckians voting in this election may do so absentee, while a typical election would only see about 2 percent voting absentee.  He warns that the combination of absentee, early in-person, and election-day voting will give a different flavor to reporting results.

“Some races we’ll know election night, I think others we won’t know for a week,” says Adams. “Very close races or races from counties that are not going to announce their totals until they have every single vote in, it’s just going to take longer.”

The secretary says his office, the Board of Elections, and county clerks have devised a voting system that will be fair to both political parties and secure. He understands President Donald Trump’s criticism of voting by mail, but Adams says Kentucky’s procedures are very different from what is used in California and some other states. Plus, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron as well as the FBI and state police will monitor the election to help ensure ballot integrity.

“We’ve got controls in place I think the president will be very pleased with,” says Adams.