Kentucky Politics

A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky’s most populous counties will not have more than one polling location during the upcoming primary elections.

The decision comes after a lawsuit filed by state Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville, which sought to add more polling locations in five of the state’s most populous counties.

Most Kentucky counties, including Jefferson County, will only have one polling location. All voters were allowed to cast ballots by mail ahead of Kentucky’s primary elections, which will take place on June 23.

In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Simpson said there was no evidence that only having one polling location in the affected counties would result in voter suppression.

“Comprehensive plans were put in place which included making absentee ballots available for all voters, providing early in-person voting options for 15 days leading up to Election Day, and establishing a polling place for Election Day in-person voting,” Simpson wrote.

“This Triple Crown of voting options wins against the pandemic’s risk of disenfranchising the Kentucky voter.”

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

Boone and Campbell counties agreed to each add one polling location as part of a settlement reached earlier this week.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath tried to intervene in the case last week, seeking to extend the deadline for voters to request mail-in ballots. Her motion was denied earlier this week.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams reached a bipartisan agreement to delay Kentucky’s primary election from May 19 to June 23 and expanded mail-in voting to all eligible voters.

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