Secretary of State Adams discusses duties, revisions in Kentucky's elections

·3 min read

Jul. 22—Revisions of Kentucky's voting processes over the past year is serving as the model for at least two other states.

That is one of the points that Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams told members of the London-Laurel Chamber of Commerce during Thursday's monthly luncheon.

Adams outlined four changes that have taken place in Kentucky's elections — and although some came during the social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, some changes will become permanent fixtures in the state.

Adams said the early voting evolved last year and had proven successful — and will continue. The early voting offers several days for voters to cast their ballots, rather than the prior option of only one day to vote. Adams added that the Saturday voting had proven very beneficial to many Kentuckians as their work schedule sometimes interfered with the one-day only voting.

"What's important is that we now have several days of voting. In Kentucky's history we once had several days of voting and that will be again," he said. "The Thursday, Friday and Saturday before election day will be regular voting days as well, so pick your day and go vote. Now you have four days to do the in-person voting."

Vote harvesting is another aspect of Kentucky's issues with the voting process — one that Adams had been addressed.

"We also made some security measures with vote harvesting, which is a method of corruption you've seen in other states — and this one. We've transitioned our machines to paper ballots," he added.

The advantage of paper ballots is that if issues occur with the vote count, the paper ballots offer a written means to recount. Adams said the machines previously used in elections did not have the capability to review individual ballots. He gave an example of a State House election in Owensboro where a recount was requested after two candidates tied.

"But when they went back to do a recount, there was no ballots. Only 2% were absentee ballots so they counted the votes over again and it didn't do any good," he explained. "You can't do a real recount unless you have ballots to count."

Absentee voting tracking is another step being taken to ensure that the votes cast in the Commonwealth are legitimate. Adams said tracking the absentee ballots — which has always been questioned — would show accountability of both voters and election officials.

The "Cure Process" is another measure enacted last year that addresses some of the discrepancies that can affect the outcome of elections.

Another change in Kentucky's voting process is offering voting centers. Voting centers alleviate the precinct voting by allowing persons to vote in designed voting centers rather than travel to their respective precincts as has been the prior policy.

"We will never go back to the same way, but the reason we did voting centers was because so many places cancelled last year," Adams said.

He added that many counties, however, did not have the geography-agreeable to combine into voting centers. He listed Boyle County as a successful site for voting centers, while Harlan County differed.

"In Harlan County there are mountains between every town," he said.

Clearing the voter register rolls is another step taken to ensure that Kentuckians' votes are accurate and determine the legitimate winner. Adams said that the requirement to leave voters' names on the poll lists for four years had been abolished.

"That way we don't have dead people voting," he said.

Adams said the revisions that Kentucky is undergoing in their election processes is being looked at by other states.

"Louisiana and Vermont are following our standard," he said.

The Secretary of State is the record-keeper for the entire state, handling not only elections but the records of land deeds, legislative actions and other procedures.

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