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Kenton County Breaks Down Changes to Elections After HB574

2020 Kenton County Election Statistics

During the 2020 presidential election, Kenton County had 142,126 registered voters by the close of voter registration on October 5, 2020. By election day - November 3, 2020 - 82,235 voters had cast their ballots either by mail or walk-in voting. By the close of the tabulation period - which was extended to November 10, 2020 due to the pandemic and influx of mail-in ballots - 82,736 voters had cast their choices for office giving Kenton County a 58 percent turnout. 

In the 2016 presidential election, the county saw 73,120 votes, or 57 percent turnout. 

Of the votes cast in 2020, 71 percent took advantage of the county's early no-excuse voting system: 43 percent voted early in-person; 28 percent voted by absentee, excluding the 58 ballots that were rejected as a result of failing to cure signatures or other issues; and 29 percent voted on Election Day. 

The ballots held races for 2 Senatorial Districts, 5 House Districts, the office of Judge/Executive and 3 Fiscal Court Commissioners, 19 city councils, and 5 school districts spanning 105 precincts in the city. 

There were 58 different ballot faces that could be found across the county. 

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams used these statistics from across all 120 counties in the commonwealth, studied what worked and didn't work, and collaborated with Governor Andy Beshear and the State Legislature to pass HB574 - an ACT relating to elections and making an appropriation therefor. The bill was signed into law on April 7 of this year, and is the most consequential voting bill passed in the state since 1892 according to Adams. 

Changes to Voting as a Result of HB574

Some of the changes brought on by HB574 affect candidates wishing to file, while others will more generally affect voters. For instance, voters are being asked to verify their registration status after voting rolls have undergone more efficient list maintenance procedures. The public can check their registration here.

The list maintenance procedures are designed to remove duplicates, deceased, moved, and individuals registered to a PO Box, rather than a residential address. These procedures aim at decreasing the amount of fraud in Kentucky's elections. Moreover, Kenton County's Clerk Gabrielle Summe sees the decrease in clutter on the voting lists as a way of getting more accurate voter turnout statistics. 

Other changes voters should be aware of:

  • No more Ballot Harvesting, where one person collects ballots to turn in from a centralized location like a nursing home
  • Three days of no-excuse early voting on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Election Day
  • Optional vote centers in counties, to be used at each county's clerk's discretion 
  • Absentee ballot portal which allows voters to order and track the location of their ballots
    • The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is now shorter
    • Mail-in ballots require an excuse again
    • Signatures on mail-in ballots must now be cured, instead of thrown out
  • More accessible voting equipment for the blind
  • All ballots must be counted on and before the end of Election Day
  • The use of dropboxes is still permitted
  • The state will no longer cover the return postage on mail-in ballots, which it hadn't done before the pandemic
  • All ballot review must be available for the public to watch

Summe said that she is still working out the logistics for how precincts and a voting center will look for the county. Moreover, she believes that the new system will build and restore public confidence when casting votes. 

Some of the reasons she believes in this confidence is the decentralized nature of Kentucky's voting system citing that the clerks have agency over the equipment used and locations picked for their elections. Moreover, neither the voting or tabulation equipment is connected to the internet, an approved ID is required to cast a vote, the security of the absentee ballot request portal, a newly-adopted universal paper ballots requirement that leaves a papertrail, bar codes on ballots, expanded audit practices before and after the election, and the discontinuation of ballot harvesting. 

Summe has been constructing a website to address any confusion and alleviate any concerns over Kenton County's voting procedure. 

"We're hoping the website, partnering with TBNK to produce videos, will have more visuals for people to go and see more smaller snippets of information so that they can pick and choose what they're looking for," she said. 

Summe continued, saying it will host an informative collection of videos, infographics and pertinent voting facts and can be accessed hereThe Secretary of State's website also has valuable information and can be accessed here

Important Voting Dates in 2022

  • Primary Election: May 17
    • Last day to register for Primary: April 18
  • General Election: November 8
    • Last day to register for General: October 10

Filing Deadlines

  • File with Secretary of State: January 7
    • US Senate
    • US House
    • State House
    • Justice of Supreme Court
    • Court of Appeals
    • Circuit Court Judges
    • District Court Judges
  • File with County Clerk: January 7
    • Judge/Executive
    • Coroner 
    • Commissioners Property Valuation Administrator (PVA)
    • County Attorney
    • Surveyor
    • Sheriff 
    • Magistrates
    • County Clerk
    • Constable 
    • Jailer
    • Soil and Water Conservation
  • Other offices filed with County Clerk: Varies
    • Local School Boards
    • Mayors
    • City Commission or Council 

KREF 001 Campaign Finance Information

  • All candidates must create an account to e-file their campaign reports here
  • Electronic submission of reports is now mandatory
  • KREF 001 is the Statement of Spending Intent and Appointment of Campaign Treasurer
  • KREF 001 must be filed first before filing candidate paperwork. Paper copy  must be submitted at same time as candidate filing
  • For question, contact the Registry at 502-573-2226

-Connor Wall, associate editor