Health Kentucky Politics

Secretary of State Michael Adams is calling this year’s election one of the most accessible in Kentucky history.

Adams touched on the steps being taken by his office at Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus news conference Thursday. The duo from opposing parties has worked in recent weeks to make the upcoming general election safe and convenient for voters as the state continues to battle the pandemic.

To accomplish that, Adams said officials will be following a plan similar to this year’s primary election, which saw the second-highest voter turnout for a primary in Kentucky history.

“I want to reiterate that we’re doing for November very much similar to what we did for the June primary that worked so well, that enfranchised so many people, that led to a historic turnout, that led to no spike in COVID-19 cases,” Adams said. “We gave the voters options. Gov. Beshear and I agree that the best way to ensure that we have a successful election and a safe election is to give voters choices.”

Voters will have four ways to cast their ballots. In addition to normal in-person voting on Election Day, polls will be open for early in-person voting Monday through Saturday, starting Oct. 13.

Voters can also mail in absentee ballots or drop them at their county clerk’s office. The deadline to register to vote is 4 p.m. on Oct. 5. Absentee ballots must be requested by Oct. 9.

“This is going to be the most convenient election we’ve ever had,” Adams said. “This is the most voter-centric election we’ve ever had in Kentucky history.”

Beshear also took time at the briefing to comment on today’s protests at the Capitol surrounding a Supreme Court hearing on challenges to his executive orders.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron and a few Kentucky businesses are attempting to block Beshear’s executive orders, including those that have limited public gatherings and mandated the use of masks. Oral arguments were presented today, with the plaintiffs contending that the orders are unlawful overreaches of powers outlined in the commonwealth’s constitution.

Beshear said that he “can’t believe” the restrictions are being challenged, noting that the steps he has taken thus far align with recommendations from the White House and top public health officials.

“[These steps] have been taken because they’re the difference in how fast the virus spreads and how many people die,” Beshear said. “What I don’t understand about this challenge by the attorney general is that even if he wins, we lose as a commonwealth.”

Fewer precautions, Beshear said, means the virus will spread more widely, and ultimately infect and kill more individuals. He pointed to protests at the Capitol as confirmation that the mandates are needed.

During oral arguments, hundreds of people gathered outside. Few were wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

“The argument being made by the side they support in the Supreme Court argument was Kentuckians know and understand that they need to wear a mask, and there doesn’t need to be a mask mandate,” Beshear said. “Well, there were 200 plus Kentuckians not social distancing without [a mask] today. I think without intending to, they showed how important it is.”

Beshear announced 628 new cases on Thursday, bringing Kentucky’s total to 59,370 since the pandemic began. Eleven more deaths were reported.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.