Kentucky elections bill awaits final House vote

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Kentucky county clerks are looking through a bill that could change how future elections are conducted.

A bill approved by the state Senate, and awaiting another House vote, includes more early voting and voting centers.

Mail-in absentee ballots, voting centers and “no excuse” early voting were all introduced during last year’s elections. A bipartisan bill would keep some of those changes in place in the commonwealth next year.

“It looks like they went in and picked a lot of the good parts that everyone coalesced around last time as far as early voting and voting centers,” said Richard House of the Daviess Co. Clerk’s Office.

The bill, overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and approved by the House last month, has a three-day early voting period for Thursday through Saturday before Election Day, and allows voting centers, where more than one precinct is in one location. House says the bill has been amended to take out “no excuse” absentee voting.

“It looks like it’s going to back to where you have to have a reason for requesting a mail-in absentee ballot. it’s sort of the similar reasons before,” he said. House added some of those reasons for allowing a voter to vote absentee in the past included age, disability and being out of town during regular voting hours.

The bill also keeps the online site running for those applying for absentee ballots, and starts a process for the state to have paper trails of ballots.

“It sounds like they are being proactive in ensuring that this time, it goes a little smoother before, which is definitely great, because we don’t know how long the pandemic is going to last,” says Eric Melvin of Owensboro.

House says if it becomes law, it could also save the county on election costs.

“We will be able to buy less voting machines for voting centers, as to being able to provide every voting place in Daviess County a voting machine, we’ll be able to reduce that number down,” he explained.

Since the Senate changed the bill before voting last night, it goes back to the House for another vote. The General Assembly resumes on March 29th.

(This story was originally published on March 17, 2021)

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