Kentucky: Polling Place Numbers Down 95% Ahead of Vote
State lawmakers and voting rights activists are bracing for potential chaos during Kentucky’s primary election on 23 June after concerns over coronavirus led state elections officials to sharply limit the number of in-person polling places.
According to the Kentucky Secretary of State there are 3,700 polling places used in a typical statewide election but on Tuesday 23 June this number is down to just 170.
These measures have led to outcry across the country, particularly from Democrats who say it could result in a nightmare scenario in big cities with hours-long lines, potentially disenfranchising Black voters. The commonwealth’s two most populous counties, Jefferson and Fayette, the homes of Louisville and Lexington, will have just one in-person polling location open in each.
Jefferson County, home to Louisville (population 600,000) and the largest Black community in the state, has all in-person voting at the city’s large convention centre. And in Fayette County (population 320,000), home to Lexington, the commonwealth’s second largest city, all in-person voting is on the football field at the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams pushed back against concerns about the election by noting the number of ballots cast absentee and during early voting and pointing out that the current rules were part of an agreement between the Republican election official and Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.
The Kentucky secretary of state’s office said that as of Monday 21 June that it had issued over 867,311 mail-in ballots in the primary election, while just over half (442,919) have been returned.