Kentucky Politics

Kentucky is delaying its May primary elections by more than a month, the latest in a series of crowd restrictions announced to try and limit the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Monday delaying the May 19 primaries until June 23.

“We don’t want people out there trying to create gatherings where the coronavirus can spread. And just think about the poll worker at your location,” Beshear said.

Georgia and Louisiana have also delayed their primary elections. Ohio is moving to delay its primary, which takes place on Tuesday.

Kentucky’s Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams recommended that Beshear, a Democrat, delay the election by the maximum 35 days.

During a news conference on Monday, Adams said that the measure buys the state time to respond to the epidemic before voters line up.

“It’s sort of a happy coincidence, I think, that you’ve got a secretary of state and a governor of differing political parties agreeing jointly that this needs to be delayed for a period of 35 days,” Adams said.

Adams said that he hoped the “worst will be over” by the time June 23 rolls around, but that further changes could be made if the outbreak hasn’t ended.

“This will give us time to assess changes that we can make in our election system as to location — potentially even as to method — to make sure that we can have a smooth election,” Adams said.

Kentuckians will vote in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress and most of the seats in the state legislature this year.

The announcement comes hours after Beshear announced some of the most restrictive measures yet in response to coronavirus. Beshear said bars and restaurants will now be closed to in-person traffic, restricting them to take out and delivery. Child care centers will have to close by the end of the day on Friday, with some exceptions for the children of health workers responding to the outbreak.

Kentucky schools are also closed for at least the next two weeks.

The state has 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday evening.

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