As Kentucky gears up for a historic voter turnout in the upcoming general election, Secretary of State Michael Adams shared updates Oct. 6 on how to vote, why he is encouraging early in-person voting and why the nation’s voting results will be delayed on Election Day.
“It’s never been easier to vote in any election in our history as a state than it is right now in this election,” Adams said, during a webinar with members of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 6, in which he gave updates on the state’s voting processes and information.
Election Day is on Nov. 3 this year, and the polls will be opened from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of voters may seek other available options for voting in the general election this year, including absentee (mail-in) and early in-person voting. However, for the upcoming general election, Adams said, the state is scaling back its reliance on mail-in voting in order to not overwhelm the Post Office and the county clerks.
“My goal is to try to move us toward a more traditional normal election. I think we all want to go back to normal as much as our situation will allow us to do,” Adams said. “Even if I didn’t want to do that, which I do, the fact is I can’t fully replicate what we did in June because you can’t scale up absentee balloting in the context of a general election, where you’ve got two-and-a-half times the turnout. The load on our clerks will be too severe, and the reliance on the Post Office would also be unideal.”
Early in-person voting starts Oct. 13, three weeks before the election. Any Kentuckians who wish to vote early can do so every work day between Oct. 13 and Election Day, as well as every Saturday for at least four hours. County clerk offices will be available to provide early in-person voting locations.
“You don’t have to have an excuse to vote early. You don’t have to have an appointment to vote early. Just go vote,” Adams said. “It’s gonna be the same experience you had on Nov. 3, except the lines will be shorter. I’m going to vote early myself. I’m gonna encourage you to vote early because the fewer people we have voting in one twelve-hour span on one day, the more of that we can spread across 19 separate days to vote, between Oct. 13 and Nov. 3, the more successful election we’re going to have.”
Any Kentuckians concerned with contracting or spreading COVID-19 can request a ballot by mail. Kentuckians can request a mail-in ballot online at, www.govoteky.com, or through traditional means. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 9. Voters can also check the status of their absentee ballots through the state’s online portal.
Medical emergency absentee ballots requested can continue to be submitted from Oct. 10 through Nov. 3 through traditional means. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 6.
Adams said that he expects at least one-third of Kentuckians to vote absentee in this upcoming election, and he encouraged any Kentuckians who may feel concerned about potential mailing delays to drop their completed ballots directly into drop boxes, which are located by county clerk offices.
Regarding voting on Election Day, Adams said that every county, except for two, will have more than one polling location open on Nov. 3 to allow voters more opportunities to vote in-person. Adams said that he and other state election officials are currently approving polling locations, and the official polling locations will be announced by the county clerks and the state closer to Nov. 3.
Adams mentioned the Election Night results, and he explained why voters should expect the final results for the presidency, at least, to be delayed by at least one week, if not more.
“People want to know who won the election on Election Night,” Adams said. “I’ll just prepare you for this: My guess is that we won’t know who the president’s going to be for a couple weeks after the election.”
He explained how swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan announced that they will not start counting absentee ballots until the polls close on Election Day. In Kentucky, he said, absentee votes have already begun being processed — though not counted yet until after the polls close — and it will take a shorter time to process and count the votes in the state due to more people voting in-person. Therefore, he said, Kentucky election officials are expecting to know about 80 percent of the state’s vote counts by the end of Election Day.
“We’re going to be faster than they are,” Adams said. “One of those reasons is that, unlike in those states, most of our voters are going to vote in-person. It’s quicker to count in-person votes because you vote on a machine and you push the button on a machine and there’s your totals. Absentee requires putting every ballot in individually.”
Kentuckians who were unable to get a driver’s license or photo ID due to the COVID-19 pandemic because their clerk’s office was closed, or because they were afraid of exposing themselves to the virus, can sign a document explaining this concern and cast their ballot.
For more information on how to vote in this upcoming general election, visit the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website at, sos.ky.gov.