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Early voting could become permanent in Kentucky elections

The plan has been sent to Governor Beshear, and as of April 1, 2021, he has eight days to sign or veto the bill.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Early voting was popular in Kentucky in 2020. Now, a plan is in the works to keep some early voting in Kentucky elections.

The changes in 2020 prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed through by Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams. Though the two man come from different parties, they worked together to pull off the election, which has been used as a successful example after several states experienced issues.

House Bill 574 would make the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before an election day early voting days. Ballots would have to be received by the end of election day and counted on election day. It would also allow counties to petition for regional voting centers. 

The plan, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Decker, also says any new voting machines purchased allow for a paper trail. Rep. Decker said that county clerks expect to be buying a lot of new machines in the coming year as the old ones are getting worn out.

The bill, HB 574, passed 91-3 in the state House after the state Senate approved its amended version on March 16 by a vote of 33-3.

According to Adams, HB 574 is about finding the balance between access and security. 

"You see some people just want to have access and no security or just security and no access. You need both and they actually work pretty well together," Adams said.

HB 574 allows for people to cast their ballots at voting centers, which don't have to be located within their precinct. It will also have an online portal, which will allow the Secretary's office or county clerks to monitor any improprieties. This is an aspect of the bill, Decker said, is necessary to protect elections.

"There will be no ballot mailed that doesn't go through that portal. When the request arrives at the state board of election, it gets a barcode, and we know where that ballot is at all time," she said. 

The plan has been sent to Governor Beshear, and as of April 1, 2020, he has eight days to sign or veto the bill. 

Beshear's office has not yet announced when he will sign the bill into law.

►Contact reporter Chris Williams at cwilliams@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@chriswnews) and Facebook.

►Contact reporter Elle Smith at esmith@whas11.com or on her social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter.

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