Beshear signs executive order, ensures Kentuckians are able to cast mail-in ballots in 2020 primary

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear met with editors and reporters from the College Heights Herald on Thursday afternoon to discuss topics ranging from lawsuits to Beshear’s campaign promises for running for state governor. “We’ve got to return honesty, transparency and decency to state government,” Beshear said.

Cassady Lamb

Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Friday which will allow registered voters in Kentucky to cast their votes in the state’s primary election on June 23 using mail-in ballots.

“Today’s Executive Order and regulations that will be created by the Kentucky State Board of Elections will allow all Kentuckians who are registered to vote for the upcoming primary to vote by mail through an absentee ballot,” Beshear said in a release.

“While there will be significant education and work required, we are committed to making sure this election will be held in a safe manner while we are in this worldwide health pandemic.”

Beshear postponed Kentucky’s primary on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Executive Order 202-236. The previous order moved the state’s primary election date from May 19 to June 23.

Secretary of State Michael Adams suggested Thursday that a different form of voting should be used in this upcoming primary election. Beshear then put the bipartisan agreement into effect on Friday morning.

“Voters across the political spectrum will be pleased with this plan to protect both democracy and public health,” Adams said in a statement. “I’m grateful to Governor Beshear for his leadership, and his working in good faith with me toward ensuring a successful and safe election.”

Beshear’s order lifts the required excuse traditionally needed to obtain an absentee ballot, and according to the executive order, the State Board of Elections will “create a secure online portal that will allow voters to request that the absentee ballot be mailed to them.”

The board will also “send a postcard to each registered voter informing voters of the ability, and the process, to vote absentee by mail in the June 23, 2020 primary election.”

In-person voting will still be available for the primary, but will be limited.

Beshear noted the State Board of Elections will be taking steps to help ensure the safety of county clerks and poll workers during in-person voting.

County clerks can prioritize those casting in-person absentee votes, which begin June 8, by scheduled appointments. The board will also be providing personal protective equipment and sanitation materials.

In the executive order, Beshear added that a contactless method of voting, such as drive-thru voting, may be implemented by county clerks.

Recent legislation that will require Kentuckians to have photo identification to vote won’t impact the upcoming primary election, as it isn’t set to take effect until the general election in November.

The mail-in voting order also comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he “would not approve an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if it did not immediately raise its prices for package delivery,” according to a staff report from the Washington Post.

News reporter Cassady Lamb can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @lambp0p.