Madison County residents will have several ways to cast their vote in the upcoming June 23 Presidential Primary Election, including by mail-in absentee ballot, appointment walk-in absentee ballot or appointment voting on Election Day.
At the most recent Madison County Board of Elections meeting, representatives of each party, along with Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger, discussed further in detail what the big day, and days leading up to it, would look like.
Mail-in absentee voting
One of the ways to vote in Madison County is by mail-in absentee voting, which Barger heavily encourages.
“I will shout it from the rooftops,” he said. “Please request your absentee ballot to vote in by mail.”
Mail-in ballots can be submitted either online or through mail and is the safest way to exercise your right to vote, officials say, by keeping others in the community safe by remaining at home.
Already, Barger’s office has received requests for ballots to be mailed out to their home address.
After ballots are filled out, residents can return them by mail, with pre-paid postage from the clerk’s office, or drop them off at a metal bin once they are installed at a secure location thought to be the courthouse lobby.
“We need everyone to vote by mail,” Barger told The Register.
Absentee ballots can also be accessed through the online absentee portal, which is not yet set up, but are scheduled to be opened May 22.
Ballots may be requested by phone at 859-624-4703, option 2. Kentucky is working to create an online portal to request mail-in ballots; this opportunity is forecasted to be available on May 22. There will be a link posted to our website once the portal is live at madisoncountyclerk.us.
Walk-in absentee voting
Walk-in absentee voting can be done by those who do not have a physical address, or by those who have a disability inhibiting them from casting their votes.
Those who wish to participate in the election this way, are required to first make an appointment with the clerk’s office.
Voters will then be required to wear a face mask upon going to the courthouse to cast their votes, which again must be made by appointment.
Protocols and procedures are continuing to be determined. Walk-in absentee voting is scheduled to begin on May 26.
Election Day voting
By statute, the county has to provide one open polling station on Election Day, and in a previous meeting, an idea of having two stations — one in Richmond and one in Berea — was discussed.
But at the Wednesday county election board meeting, Barger said having a single polling center at the county courthouse is the best option.
“This is one of the hardest things I have dealt with here because everything is so unknown,” Barger said during the Zoom teleconference meeting. “I want to be as convenient as possible, but I don't think convenience is possible with where we are with the coronavirus.
"What the governor’s office is telling us is how we should conduct our offices, with no lines and no waits … I don’t know how you conduct an election without people having to wait in line.”
He said while there are several reasons that would make having more than one polling station difficult, the biggest challenge is labor.
“Ninety percent of our precinct workers are in an age category that the governor is asking them to stay home even when we do open back up,” he said. “There is no way we can safely do this on Election Day."
He said even if everything was perfect in terms of procedures and a place to have the polls, the biggest question would be who would work them.
“We only have a handful of people even under 50 that work the polls for us,” he said. “… And that was the point of having expanded absentee(ism) to protect our election officers and not have them out on Election Day, putting themselves at risk.
“The only way I see is to have the election, in-person voting, here at the courthouse.”
He said the office can request voters to make an appointment before attempting to come into the courthouse to vote, but that if someone were to just walk in on Election Day, their vote has to be recorded, and it would be classified as a walk-in absentee vote.
“If someone shows up and demands to vote walk-in absentee, they are going to vote walk-in absentee,” he said. “We are not going to stand in their way of exercising their Constitutional right.”
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.