FRANKFORT, Ky. — Three days of early voting for the primary election got underway Thursday at designated polling places across Kentucky — the result of a bipartisan election measure passed by state lawmakers.
Voters can cast ballots, with no excuse needed, again Friday and Saturday ahead of Tuesday's election — which will determine each party's lineup of candidates for the November general election.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams was among those casting ballots in Louisville on Thursday.
“I took advantage of our new no-excuse early voting today," Adams said. "It was quick and easy.”
The three days of early in-person voting will become a Bluegrass State staple following passage of the 2021 legislation. The agreement to expand voting access was in sharp contrast to bitter partisan battles waged elsewhere in the country over election laws.
Adams said that voting in Kentucky “has never been more accessible or more secure.” Lawmakers also took steps aimed at strengthening election security protections.
“Following Kentucky’s uniquely bipartisan election reform legislation, we are excited to see early voting implemented in statute for the first time since 1891, and hopeful voters will utilize their new options and go vote,” Adams said earlier this week.
Under the new early voting system, county clerks put together plans setting the location and number of polling places. Those polling places have to be open for eight hours each of the three days. No votes will be tabulated until after polls close on Tuesday.
In Jefferson County, six locations opened their doors early Thursday morning.
WHAS11 visited four of them, where voters trickled in small handfuls at a time. Poll workers said there were no major rushes or lines, largely due to work schedules, but commended the change to give voters more time.
Voters themselves told us the extra flexibility has already made the process easier for them.
"If somebody is going out of town, or they have an illness or anything like that, it gives them more time," said Dave and Sandy Ernst, who cast their ballots at Sun Valley Community Center in Southwest Jefferson County.
Also at the Valley Station location, Ray Tinsley said it's a convenient option for the community, especially to avoid some of the larger crowds on Election Day.
Over in west Louisville at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, the air conditioning was out, but spirits were high. Shuttles were even seen dropping some people off.
"It was so simple and quick," voter James Lewis said. "Don't have to wait until the last minute, or fight the crowd."
Teresa Coleman-Bryant said this makes a big difference for seniors too.
"It allows you to get your rides together, there are a lot of elderly who can't get here [easily]," she said.
Meanwhile, at Broadbent Arena in south Louisville, poll workers say they saw a total of nearly 550 voters by the end of day one.
They believe when it's all said and done, the cemented early voting days will prove to be a major benefit to the community.
"It's just going to make the number go through the roof," a poll worker said.
The Jefferson County Clerk’s Office said it expects up to a fifth of registered voters in the county to turn out for the primary, once the final tally is made. A spokesperson says it's possible the percentage could end up being slightly higher than 2018's total.