There’s several predictions that could have easily been made about the 2020 election cycle in Kentucky.
It was almost assured that this election would be hard-fought, that this election would be a challenge, that this election would be the focus of a great deal of time and attention.
What could not have been predicted with any certainty, however, was that this election would be held in the midst of a global pandemic which would necessitate a completely new way of conducting elections.
Changes in elections in Kentucky typically occur at a glacial pace and, for official such as first-term Secretary of State Michael Adams and Gov. Andy Beshear, the task of inserting wholesale changes in the way Kentuckians voted in a high-stakes election was, to say the least, daunting.
That’s especially true in such a partisan environment, and with Adams and Beshear being in opposite parties.
However, from where we stand, more than a week past that historic election, we’d definitely say that, as usual, Kentucky adjusted, Kentucky planned and Kentucky got it right.
While other states are still counting ballots, we’re looking now toward what, of these new methods of voting, can be rolled into future elections to continue the trend of high turnout we saw for this general election.
Kentucky Today reported this week that Adams has said he wants the 2021 General Assembly to consider making changes such as allowing early voting, perhaps not as far out as was necessary in the COVID-19 environment, but also to allow Saturday voting.
“I don’t think we need three weeks for every election,” Adams is quoted by Kentucky Today as saying. “But a few days would really help take the pressure off voters to show up in a 12-hour span on one day, which is a workday. Saturday voting was very popular. I’ve already done a survey of the county clerks and most of them like early voting, including Saturdays.”
He’s also looking at potentially backing voting centers, as opposed to the old precinct model, as well as expanded absentee balloting.
Also, he said, the process of “curing” ballots, or allowing voters to correct errors, is something that would benefit the state in the future, considering that, in 2018, 72 percent of absentee ballots were thrown out for voter error. In 2020, Adams told Kentucky Today, it’s going to be less than 1 percent.
The fact that we’re not, like some states, still counting ballots and hashing out races that should have long been decided is a testament to the work of Adams and the county clerks in Kentucky. Were there glitches? Sure. But, considering all the challenges we faced, it could have been far worse and few would have expected it to go as well as it did.
While all the changes put in place were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the result was that it was easier and more convenient to vote than it ever has been in Kentucky, and voters took advantage of that to make their voices heard in what is perhaps the most consequential election of our lifetimes.
In an era of partisan rancor the likes of this country has not seen in generations, that Adams and Beshear could wrangle together all the necessary parts and make this primary and general election happen is something for which they both deserve to be congratulated.
That Adams is already looking to the future and ways to get people involved in the process gives a positive outlook to the rest of his term and we support the changes he’s proposed.
We’ve seen that we can roll with the changes in Kentucky and it’s past time for our state to get our election process cleaned up, tightened up and opened up to as many people as possible. It’s unfortunate that it took a devastating virus for that to become clear, but what’s happening with our elections in Kentucky is definitely a case of opportunity arising out of adversity.
Not all the changes being wrought by COVID have to be negative and this is a case where there is a silver lining on the clouds.