Kentucky Politics

Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath has filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit demanding more in-person polling locations in Kentucky’s most populous counties.

Most Kentucky counties will only have one polling location for the June 23 primaries after mail-in voting was expanded to all eligible voters in Kentucky to prevent long lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Republican state Rep. Jason Nemes and McGrath has asked to join the challenge, arguing that the current scheme restricts citizens’ right to vote.

“As has been seen in the other states that have restricted the number of polling sites, it is expected that lines in the populous Kentucky counties that are only providing a single voting location will be excessively long, leading many who intended to vote in-person to abstain from voting at all,” the lawsuit states.

McGrath’s campaign pointed to confusion and long lines during Atlanta’s primary elections earlier this week after Georgia reduced its number of polling locations and many people said they didn’t receive mail-in ballots.

The lawsuit calls for polling locations to be expanded in Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Boone and Campbell Counties, “in addition to other large Kentucky counties.”

McGrath said that long wait times would disproportionately impact Black communities.

“The single polling location in Fayette and Jefferson counties will result in the denial or abridgement of the right to vote of many Black supporters of the McGrath Campaign and others on account of their race or color in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the lawsuit states.

In McGrath’s motion to intervene, her campaign called for extending the deadline to request a ballot until June 19 and provide ballots at curbside until June 22.

The campaign also called for the court to allow campaigns, volunteers or civic organizations to complete ballot requests for voters over the phone.

Currently voters can request ballots until Monday, June 15 at 11:59 pm at GoVoteKY.com or at local county clerk’s offices.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.