Kentuckians choosing to vote by absentee mail-in balloting in next month’s primary won’t have to pay for postage under a decision by state elections officials last week.
The State Board of Elections (SBE) adopted the free postage at a special meeting conducted online, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The board also said county clerks will be able to hire temporary help to manage the election during the coronavirus pandemic.
The board’s emergency regulations follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order last week that calls on all voters to use absentee voting by mail if they can in the June 23 primary election. But in-person voting will still be made available.
Every eligible registered voter will receive a postcard with instructions on how to apply for an absentee ballot, which will be delivered by mail. A secure online portal for all voters to request the ballots is being created. All eligible voters who apply for an absentee ballot will qualify to receive one.
“The SBE is working on the portal, but hasn’t given us a firm date as to when it will be ready,” said Lyon County Clerk Lori Duff.
Once the ballot is completed, it can be mailed free of charge or can be dropped off at a secure county-government location.
Duff is hoping most Lyon County voters will cast a ballot by mail in the primary election, but those wanting to still vote in-person may do so. She will have one voting machine set up; and per SBE guidance, it can be used by appointment between Monday, June 8 and 6 p.m. on election night.
“The absentee machine will be opened and used for voters wishing to vote in-person,” she said.
The elections board approved $1 million to $1.2 million to pay postage for voters to return their absentee ballots to county clerks and $1 million to $1.1 million for county clerks to hire staffers for four weeks to help with the election.
SBE Chairman Ben Chandler said that the money will come from the federal CARES Act plus matching funds from the state.
The Herald Ledger and The Associated Press contributed to this story.