A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Secretary of State Michael Adams shares positive election experiences with congressional committee

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Secretary of State Michael Adams testified virtually this week before the U.S. House Committee on House Administration, calling on Congress to give states breathing space to reform their election processes and insisting on bipartisanship in any election legislation.

He told the panel about his work with Gov. Andy Beshear because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I asked our legislature for, and received, emergency powers, to be shared with our Democratic governor to permit us to implement temporary changes to our election system to ensure public safety, voter access and election security. We expanded absentee voting, and we established early voting for the first time in Kentucky history.”

Secretary of State Michael Adams spoke to a U.S. House committee on Monday about the success of Kentucky’s election. (Photo from Kentucky Today)

During his testimony, Adams criticized the national media for perpetuating an overblown narrative about states, including Kentucky, allegedly disenfranchising their citizens.

“In the days before our June 2020 primary election, Kentucky was singled out in a national campaign of harassment and hate, with false accusations of voter suppression,” Adams said. “Our phones were clogged with angry callers from Washington, D.C., California and New York, cursing at us, sometimes threatening violence. This was directed at us by celebrities on Twitter, including a certain member of Congress who now chairs the Senate committee analogous to yours.”

He was referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, who became chair of the Senate Rules Committee in January 2021. On social media, reporting a Washington Post story in June 2020, she stated, “KY usually has 3,700 polling locations. Tuesday, there will be 200— with only ONE in the largest county where most of the Black population of KY lives. This is voter suppression — it’s insidious. Voting should be safe & easy. Let’s make that a reality.”

Adams added, “When the dust settled, however, Kentucky had conducted the most successful election in America at that point in the pandemic – safe, orderly, and with high turnout. Kentuckians knew better how to run an election in Kentucky than did the national media or national politicians.

“The expanded voting reforms and enhanced security measures we implemented proved so successful and so popular that our legislature just made most of them permanent, with the votes in both chambers bipartisan and nearly unanimous. Kentucky is the national leader this year in election reform, but we are not alone; bipartisan legislation expanding voting opportunities has passed in Louisiana and Vermont, too.”

Adams noted there were two lessons to be learned from the 2020 elections. First: “Kentucky knows best what’s best for Kentucky, and I would urge you to let Kentucky be Kentucky, let Louisiana be Louisiana and Vermont be Vermont, and respect the laboratories of democracy that lead to innovation in a decentralized election system.”

Secondly, he added: “Election policy should be made not by a caucus, not by a think tank, but by election administrators who work in a bipartisan fashion. Bipartisanship not only leads to a better product, with concerns on both sides accommodated, it also shows voters on both sides that the rules are not being rigged to favor one party over another. I understand the concern many of you have with state legislatures acting in a partisan fashion in passing election legislation, and I would encourage you to avoid doing the same thing yourselves.”

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