Absentee voting urged in primary election

Changes to Kentucky’s primary election as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be evident as voters prepare to cast their ballots.

• The date for the primary was been pushed back from May 19 to June 23 through an executive order by Gov. Andy Beshear.

• Lewis County will have one active voting precinct that will be open on June 23.

• Officials are urging voters to cast mail-in absentee ballots to limit in-person contact.

• The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Monday, June 15.

The Lewis County Board of Elections met recently to discuss the changes and develop plans to efficiently conduct the election locally.

County Clerk Glenda Himes said Lewis County has been authorized for two voting machines.

Local election officials were trained on the new machines last week.

Himes said one of those machines will be located in the Lewis County Courthouse for early voting. The second machine will be set up at Lewis County Middle School to serve the county’s one precinct on election day.

That location will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on June 23.

She said the machines will utilize paper ballots and scanners to avoid people continuously touching the same screen as when voting electronically.

She adds the paper ballots will help alleviate concerns about hacking and security.

Himes said workers will be utilizing a new e-poll book rather than the traditional paper poll books that contain a list of eligible voters in the district or precinct.

She said the e-poll book (a laptop or tablet) will minimize direct contact of common surfaces with voting participants.

One benefit includes the ability of voters to scan their drivers license to pull up their voting information.

“I urge all voters to bring their drivers license if they will be voting on election day or in person at the courthouse,” she said. “Being able to scan the license with the e-poll book will result in very little physical contact and will help to save time.”

Early voters should call to make an appointment to vote on the third floor of the Lewis County Courthouse. Appointments are available during regular clerk office hours through June 22.

Himes said voters in Kentucky should have received a postcard in the mail informing them of their ability to do absentee mail-in voting and directing them to an online portal where they can verify their identity and request a mail-in ballot.

She said voters may also request an absentee ballot directly through her office but must do so by June 15.

“All absentee ballots in Lewis County will come from my office whether they are requested online or otherwise,” she said.

They may be mailed back or hand delivered to a ballot box in Himes’ office in the Lewis County Courthouse.

County Attorney Benjamin Harrison adds that all Lewis County absentee ballots will be counted locally by local people.

“All Lewis County absentee ballots will be returned to the Lewis County Clerk’s Office and will be verified and counted by the Lewis County Board of Elections,” Harrison said.

Local election officials authorized Himes to utilize election workers in her office to assist with the absentee and early voting duties as needed.

Himes said Lewis County typically has 14 voting precincts on election days and while many election workers have opted not to participate on June 23 due to health concerns, several have offered to assist as needed.

She said poll workers typically spend 14 or so hours performing election day duties. This election will have workers reporting in shifts to help limit the time spent in an in-person environment.

“It is and will be a secret ballot,” Himes adds.

Himes urges anyone with questions concerning the voting process or changes for the election to contact her office at 606-796-3062.

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