A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Secretary of State Adams gets encouragement from county clerk survey for election reforms

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Secretary of State Michael Adams has more support in his effort to have some of the changes made to the way elections were conducted this year made permanent by the Kentucky General Assembly next year.

In an interview with Kentucky Today shortly after the November general election, Adams, a Republican, said there were four items he hopes lawmakers consider after he and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear developed the plan and issued executive orders on conducting the election, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of State Adams

Adams, the state’s chief election officer, announced Friday that a survey he took of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks, who are the local officials responsible for conducting elections, support his proposals.

Of the 115 county clerks who responded to Secretary Adams’ survey:

• 79% want to keep in-person early voting.

• 92% support keeping “vote centers” (centralized locations where any county resident can vote) if on a voluntary basis by county, and 63% support vote centers being required.

• 70% favor keeping a signature cure process for absentee ballots, giving voters a chance to correct errors with their ballots.

• 89% support keeping the absentee ballot request portal, where voters can apply online and have an absentee ballot mailed to them.

“From day one, I’ve actively consulted with county clerks of both political parties as I develop election policy,” Adams said. “I’m so pleased that, by overwhelming margins, the county clerks agree with the four main tenets of the election reform legislation I’m preparing for the General Assembly to consider.”

Adams explained his support for each of the four topics:

Regarding early voting: “I don’t think we need three weeks for every election. But a few days would really help take the pressure off voters to show up in a 12-hour span on one day, which is a workday. Saturday voting was very popular.”

On countywide voting centers: “It really helps [county clerks] need fewer locations and fewer pill workers to run their elections and also saves them money, they’ve told me. They like that model better than the old-fashioned model. I don’t want to eliminate all precinct voting, but I do want to see at least some use of vote centers.”

The absentee voting portal: “We’re going to have more absentee balloting than we’ve had in the past. Even if we don’t change the law to expand absentee voting, more voters are going to use it, because now they’re familiar with it and they like it.”

For the absentee ballot cure process: It really helped re-enfranchise voters of both parties, if you give them a chance to fix an honest mistake that they didn’t know they made before you throw the ballots in the garbage can.”

The 2021 General Assembly convenes in January.

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