Election Day is Nov. 3, and voting is already well underway in Kentucky. That’s because state officials have devised a bipartisan plan to maximize voting options while minimizing the potential for COVID-19 exposure due to crowded polls.
In August, Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order allowing all voters to request a mail-in absentee ballot and calling for in-person voting to begin three weeks prior to Election Day. According to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office, just over 658,000 of the state’s 3.5 million registered voters (nearly 19%) requested absentee ballots before the Oct. 9 deadline.
Below is a rundown of changes to Kentucky’s electoral process in the time of coronavirus, as well as key details and dates to remember. In the coming weeks, we’ll update this story with new WFPL reporting on candidates, key races, proposed constitutional amendments and more.
How, when and where to vote
Louisville Metro Council
Circuit Judge, 30th Judicial District
Soil and Water Conservation Board of Supervisors
How, When and Where to Vote
Louisville’s Election Day voting locations are below, and the Jefferson County Clerk’s website has the full list. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and voters may vote at any location regardless of their precinct.
All about absentees: Voters who requested mail-in ballots before the deadline must ensure they are postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 6. State officials ask anyone using an absentee ballot on election day to bring it straight to the voting location. In Jefferson County, those boxes are located at all voting locations and accessible during voting hours.
Read the directions carefully before filling out your ballot, and do not tear the perforated tab on the yellow envelope.
And finally, who’s on your ballot? Louisville voters can view a sample ballot via the clerk’s website.
Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District seat is up for re-election this year. Incumbent Rep. John Yarmuth faces real estate agent Rhonda Palazzo.
In Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Trey Hollingsworth faces Democrat Andy Ruff, a former longtime city councilman.
And U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is running against Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, and Libertarian Brad Barron.
All 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives and half of the 38-member Kentucky Senate will be up for election this year.
But in Louisville, only a handful of House seats are competitive races. And all the candidates for Senate districts that include part of Jefferson County are running unopposed.
Here’s a list of everyone on the ballot:
House District 29: Rep Kevin Bratcher (R) vs. Suzanne Kugler (D)
House District 32: Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D) vs. Hunt Rounsavall (R)
House District 33: Rep. Jason Nemes (R) vs. Margaret Plattner (D)
House District 36: Rep. Jerry Miller (R) vs. Jeff Grammer (D)
House District 37: Rep. Jeff Donahue (D) vs. Jimmy Maricle (R)
House District 46: Rep. Al Gentry (D) vs. Bob DeVore (R)
House District 48: Rep. Maria Sorolis (D) vs. Ken Fleming (R)
UNCONTESTED HOUSE RACES
House District 28: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Charles Miller
House District 30: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Burch
House District 31: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Josie Raymond
House District 34: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Mary Lou Marzian
House District 35: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner
House District 38: Incumbent Democratic Rep. McKenzie Cantrell
House District 40: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni
House District 41: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Attica Scott
House District 42: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Reginald Meeks
House District 43: Democrat Pamela Stevenson
House District 44: Incumbent Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins
UNCONTESTED SENATE RACES
Senate District 19: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey
Senate District 33: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal
Senate District 35: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Denise Harper Angel
Senate District 37: Metro Councilman and Democratic candidate David Yates
Board of Education
There are two contested races for the Jefferson County Board of Education. The seats are non-partisan.
Louisville Metro Council
This year, even-numbered districts are on the ballots for four-year terms.
District 2: Incumbent Barbara Shanklin (D) vs. Folly H. Aboussa (R)
District 4: Jecorey Arthur (D), unopposed
District 6: Incumbent David James (D) vs. Kristi “Kristina” Smith (R)
District 8: Cassie Chambers Armstrong, (D), unopposed
District 10: Incumbent Pat Mulvihill (D), unopposed
District 12: Incumbent Rick Blackwell (D), unopposed
District 14: Incumbent Cindi Fowler (D) vs. Michael Powell (R)
District 16: Incumbent Councilman Scott Reed (R) vs. James Green (D)
District 18: Incumbent Marilyn Parker (R) vs. Mera Kathryn Corlett
District 20: Incumbent Stuart Benson (R), unopposed
District 22: Incumbent Robin Engel (R), unopposed
District 24: Incumbent Madonna Flood (D), unopposed
District 26: Incumbent Brent Ackerson (D), unopposed
Family Court Judge
Family court judges are powerful, wielding important responsibilities in cases involving intimate family issues: adoption, child custody, child abuse, domestic violence, and more.
Jefferson County has 10 family court judges. The judges are nonpartisan and serve eight-year terms. This year features a special election to fill the remaining two years of a term opened after Judge Deborah Deweese retired.
The three candidates for the county-wide special election are Lori Goodwin, a staff attorney who works on family issues for Legal Aid Society of Louisville; incumbent Judge Ellie Kerstetter, appointed in January to fill the vacancy; and Daren Neel, a family court prosecutor with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office. Read more about the candidates here.
JCPS tax increase: Voters in the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) District have a question on the ballot this election season: whether to approve a 9.5% property tax increase to support JCPS. The Jefferson County Board of Education passed the increase in May, but it is subject to recall by referendum. The tax hike is now the target of a lawsuit, as is the petition to recall it.
It’s complicated, and because of pending litigation, it’s not even clear yet whether votes on the issue will count. So here is what you need to know.
Amendment 2: Voters statewide will be asked to amend the Kentucky constitution to lengthen term limits for district court judges and commonwealth’s attorneys, and also to raise the minimum experience required to be a district court judge.
Marsy’s Law: This amendment would guarantee crime victims constitutional protections, including the right to be notified of all court proceedings, the right to be present for those hearings, and the right to be heard in any hearing involving an offender’s release, plea, or sentencing.
Supporters of Marsy’s Law For Kentucky say this is an absolutely necessary step that would put Kentucky in line with the majority of states that have constitutional rights for crime victims. Opponents say it’s an unnecessary, costly measure that will slow the wheels of justice and upset our system of due process. Read more here.
Soil and Water Conservation Board of Supervisors
The Jefferson County Soil and Water District’s objective is to conserve and develop the county’s natural resources to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and help landowner’s better care for their natural landscapes.
Voters decide on board supervisors that govern the district’s activities. The board is made up of seven supervisors elected to four-year terms. The positions are nonpartisan and unpaid, though they do get small reimbursements for things like driving to attend meetings.
There are four open seats and only two candidates on the ballot; voters can choose up to two and offer write-ins.
Sarah Beth Sammons
According to Sammons’s Facebook page, she is a landscape architect with 20 years experience, Chair of the Louisville Metro Tree Committee and a Jefferson County Master Gardener. Her priorities include improving the tree canopy and promoting low-impact development.
Jennifer Chappell is seeking a second term on the board of supervisors. According to her website, she’s on the Schnitzelburg Area Community Council and participates in tree planting and creek cleanup efforts.
In Jefferson County, voters looking to cast a ballot for the next commissioner of the county’s “B” district are met with a blank slate.
No one filed to run for the position, and so no candidates are listed on election ballots. But that doesn’t mean a race isn’t brewing for the position that offers no pay and carries virtually no responsibility or authority.
Five people have registered with the Jefferson County Clerk as write-in candidates for the seat. Read about them here.
Correction: Rep. Josie Raymond is a Democrat. Her party affiliation was incorrect in a previous version.