While 2021 was a relatively low-key year for Kentucky politics, 2022 will bring a wide range of races up and down the ballot across the state, in both the May 17 primary election and Nov. 8 general election.
Here's a rundown of everything you need to know about registering to vote, changing your party or voting early in the 2022 primary election:
How do I register to vote in Kentucky?
The easiest way to register to vote is online through the voter information portal of the Kentucky State Board of Elections website — govoteky.com.
Those registering to vote for the first time or updating their voter registration should click on the "New/Update Registration" button on that page, then follow the instructions to complete the registration form.
Kentuckians can also register to vote in-person by filling out a voter registration card at their county clerk's office, or downloading and printing out a card and mailing a completed one to their county clerk's office or the State Board of Elections at 140 Walnut St., Frankfort, KY 40601.
The main page of the voter information portal also has information for military and overseas voters, polling locations and sample ballots for your precinct.
When is the deadline to register to vote in Kentucky?
Kentuckians must register to vote by April 18 in order to vote in the May 17 primary election.
For the Nov. 8 general election, the last day to register to vote is Oct. 10.
One important note on the primary: An already-registered voter seeking to switch their party affiliation in order to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary must have already done so by Dec. 31 in the previous year.
For example, if a registered Democrat changes their party affiliation to Republican on any day between Jan. 1 and May 17, they will not be allowed to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary races on May 17, only the non-partisan races.
Kentucky is a closed primary state, in which only registered Democrats can vote in Democratic primary races and only registered Republicans can vote in Republican primary races.
How do I change my party registration?
There will be a screen allowing you to switch your party affiliation, in addition to other personal information that may have changed, such as your address.
Voters can also change their party affiliation at their county clerk's office.
Again, voters seeking to switch parties in order to participate in the May 17 primary of the Republican or Democratic parties must have done so by Dec. 31 in the previous year.
Where can I check to see Kentucky voter registration?
Once this information is entered, a voter will be shown a page showing whether or not they are registered.
If registered, the page will also show their party affiliation, voting precinct, polling location and the districts they are located in races for the state House, state Senate and Congress.
How do I vote early?
In addition to voting in-person on election day, all voters now have new options for early in-person voting, while some can vote early through a mail-in or drop-off absentee ballot.
Any qualified voter may cast a no-excuse in-person absentee ballot on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday immediately preceding the day of an election — which is May 12-14 for the 2022 primary. Voting centers must be open no less than eight hours each of these days, with the exact hours determined by the board of elections of each county.
Certain qualified voters may also apply with their local county clerk's office to cast an excused in-person absentee ballot during normal business hours in the six business days immediately preceding the Thursday of no-excuse in-person absentee voting. For the 2022 primary, this would be May 4-6 and May 9-11.
Such voters who would be eligible to apply for the six additional early voting days must have a health, work or temporary residency excuse for why they cannot vote in-person on Election Day or the three preceding no-excuse early voting days.
Certain voters may also apply to receive an absentee ballot through the mail and cast it either through the mail or in-person at a county drop box. Those eligible to do so must also be unable to vote on Election Day or any of the early in-person voting days due to health, work or temporary residence excuses, or on account of of their age, disability or illness.
How to apply for an absentee ballot
Such voters can apply for an absentee ballot online through the state's online portal — https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/abrweb/. The deadline to apply for the 2022 primary is May 3, no later than 11:59 p.m. EST.
Voters can check their record and absentee ballot status here.
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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Voter registration in Kentucky, early voting , change political party