LEXINGTON, Ky. – The lines were still getting longer minutes before the polls closed at Kroger Field Tuesday, June 23, as voters turned out to cast ballots in Kentucky’s Primary Election at Fayette County’s lone polling place.
The number of polling places was reduced across Kentucky by the state board of elections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a shortage of poll workers.
Fayette was the No. 3 county in Kentucky for early in-person and absentee ballot turnout with 38 percent heading into Tuesday’s Primary. Turnout was so high at Kroger Field, Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins added two more check-in stations – taking the total to six – just before 1 p.m. in an attempt to move people through faster.
Voter Karen Fields was in line for nearly two hours before casting her vote around 1 p.m. but said she didn’t mind the wait.
“This was OK,” she said. “Aside from the little bit of rain we had earlier today, this was fine. It’s a small price to pay to be able to vote in a free election. I got to know the people I was standing in line with and we had a good time. The most difficult part was the waiting; voting was easy and I’m glad to see so many people show up to do this.”
The reduction of polling places and election workers created a push for residents to vote via absentee ballot, and more than half of the nearly 900,000 absentee ballots requested by voters statewide had been returned by Election Day, and more than 30,000 had been returned of the roughly 93,000 absentee ballots requested in Fayette County. Nearly 100,000 people in Kentucky used early in-person voting to cast
ballots and nearly 200,000 voted in-person on Election Day, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
“I’m alive, so I feel like I should vote at the polls on Election Day like I’m supposed to,” said voter Misha Roberts, who stood in line at Kroger Field for about 90 minutes. “Too many absentee ballots seem to get lost or aren’t counted, and that’s not good. I know that if I want my vote to count, I need to go to the polls and vote the old-fashioned way.”
The status of absentee ballots can be checked online at govoteky.com.
With the high turnout and polling-place adjustments for Tuesday’s Primary, it may take longer to tally the final results. Miranda Combs, a spokesperson in Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams’ office, said under normal circumstances, the State Board of Elections receives and reports all preliminary election results on election night, but because Kentucky, just as other states voting during the pandemic, has accommodated voters by letting them mail ballots on Election Day, not every vote will be in hand by election night.
“Moreover, many counties, including our two biggest (Fayette and Jefferson), have chosen to withhold even partial results until June 30, the extended deadline for all counties to report returns to the Secretary of State,” Combs said. “Consequently, while our office will provide, in an informal but transparent fashion, any county results we receive on election night, neither our office nor the State Board of Elections
will be able to offer the usual online election night reporting at elect.ky.gov.”
Complete but unofficial results must be reported to the Secretary of State by 6 p.m. local time on June 30, and will be made available to the public at that time, Combs said.