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Op-Ed: Temporary Emergency Regulations for Kentucky's Primary Election

The following op-ed is written by Jon Park, chairman of the Republican Party in Kentucky's 4th Congressional District

The State Board of Elections adopted temporary emergency regulations for upcoming June 23rd Primary election

All registered voters will be receiving a non-forwardable postcard with voting instructions by mail. 

Secretary Adams is encouraging voters to go to govoteky.com to verify or update their voter registration so they receive the postcard.

Voters will be asked on that postcard to request absentee ballots via an online portal that should be ready in a couple weeks, The portal will allow registered voters to identify themselves and to use the coronavirus as a medical excuse in requesting the absentee ballot.

In addition to the enhanced absentee balloting, voters can schedule appointments with their county clerks to vote in person. The numbers of polling places will be greatly reduced in most cases, and the appointments will allow for social distancing protocols to remain in place for in-person voting.

"There will not be regular polling locations, there are simply not enough poll workers." said  Board of Elections DeAnna Brangers, (the vast majority of regular poll workers are retired over 60, many are in their 70's and 80's). "I would highly encourage you to request an absentee ballot.  You can choose to deliver it back to the clerk via their Dropbox if you like.  I think that will help more people feel confident that their ballot is delivered if they have that kind of control over it."

Brangers went on to say "none of us wanted to be in this situation, but we are.  We have come up with the best plan that can reasonably be implemented under the circumstances.  The drop boxes at the courthouse and/or clerks offices were to help give voters an option that they felt more in control of, while not creating long lines to vote. We had to make decisions based on what we know and what the worst case situation could be.  It is going to put a lot of extra work on the clerks, but it will be easier on them if voters will request the ballots via their websites, by phone or the SBE portal when it goes live.  The fewer people who request an appointment for in person voting, the more time they will have to focus on processing ballot requests and returned ballots.  There are checks and balances built into this process.

There have been question about the recently passed Senate Bill 2 requiring voters to show a Photo ID. The Photo ID Law does not go into effect until the November General Election and will not affect the Primary on June 23rd.

All ballots will be processed and counted by a bi-partisan committee. 

Secretary of State Michael Adams said this procedure is not mail-in voting, as is available in some west-coast states, but is an enhancement of the already-in-place Kentucky regulations for absentee voting.

The board also approved $1.1 million for counties to use to hire up to four temporary staff members to help with the June 23rd Election.

Had Secretary Adams and the State Board of Elections not implemented this temporary plan, either the Governor or a judge acting unilaterally, would have made it an all-mail election and mailed ballots to every name on the roll. Secretary Adam's plan will continue to secure the integrity of the vote.

Secretary Adams tweeted that "A benefit of the June 23 election plan is that we'll move KY light years ahead in embracing paper ballots in all counties. In my 50,000 miles of travel across KY for my campaign, I found more support for this across the political spectrum than for any other reform I've proposed."

While this is not the primary election we wanted, Secretary Michael Adams and the State Board of Elections need to be commended for making the best of this COVID-19 situation.

Jon Park, Chairman 

Republican Party of Kentucky's 4th District

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