Kentucky governor signs bill to enhance voting security

Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 7, 2021) — Gov. Andy Beshear signed legislation Wednesday expanding early voting in Kentucky, but also tightens restrictions on who can vote by mail.

The Democratic governor called it “a good day for democracy.” The bill's GOP sponsors and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams joined him at the signing ceremony.

“This new law represents an important first step to preserve and protect every individual’s right to make their voice heard by casting their ballots in a secure and convenient manner on the date and time that works best for them,” Beshear said.

Adams said it represents Kentucky’s most significant election law updates in more than a century.

The measure provides for three days of no-excuse, early in-person voting — including a Saturday — before Election Day. It also allows counties to establish voting centers where any registered voter in each county can cast their ballot, regardless of their precinct.

The measure also aims to strengthen election security protections.

The new Kentucky law maintains an online portal for residents to request a mail-in ballot, but restores pre-pandemic restrictions on who can vote by mail. Regarding election security, it will lead to a statewide transition toward universal paper ballots to guarantee a paper audit trail. It enhances the ability of state election officials to remove nonresidents from voter rolls. And it expressly prohibits and penalizes ballot harvesting, the practice of collecting ballots from likely supporters and returning them to election offices.

The new law echoes the tone set last year by Beshear and Adams, who hashed out emergency voting measures during the pandemic that helped Kentucky largely avoid the long lines and other problems encountered elsewhere.

 

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