Kentucky lawmakers consider election reform bill

Kentucky lawmakers consider election reform bill
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 5:06 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lawmakers say the pandemic showed a need for improvement in Kentucky’s elections.

“Kentucky enjoyed a record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 election,” Rep. Jennifer Henson Decker said.

Thursday afternoon, election officials met in Frankfort to express their support for House Bill 574. The legislation would allow no excuse early voting.

“Republicans loved it, Democrats loved it, Independents loved it. I don’t believe in two and three week long elections outside of a pandemic, but a few days makes a difference in people’s lives,” Secretary of State Michael Adams said.

HB 574 creates new voting centers where anyone in the county may vote. The legislation also retains the cure process for absentee ballots lacking signatures.

Those supporting the bill believe the changes could enhance the integrity and transparency of Kentucky elections.

“The absentee portal itself is one of the largest steps that we’ve taken in securing our elections in over a generation. The idea that we can in real-time track absentee ballots and we’re no longer in a trust-me election,” said Jared Dearing, the executive director of the State Board of Elections.

But absentee voting for all registered voters did not make the cut. Election officials are instead pushing for the state’s prior absentee voting requirements.

“The mail-in ballot is by far the most expensive ballot by far. It more than doubled the cost of when someone walks in to vote, so to get the bill passed and to reduce costs, we just let the law revert,” Henson Decker said.

HB 574 passed through committee with a unanimous vote of 13-0. Officials believe it has a high likelihood of becoming law.

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