Still days ahead of Kentucky’s primary election, Lyon County Clerk Lori Duff is looking toward a huge general election with some consternation.
“I pray that the November election is normal,” Duff told county leaders at last week’s meeting of Lyon Fiscal Court.
That’s because the primary scheduled for Tuesday will be unlike any other balloting in Kentucky history. First, the election was delayed by more than a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moved from May 19 to June 23. Then, the entire process got turned on its head in order to comply with directives to protect public health.
“There’s a lot of false information out there,” Duff said about the altered processes.
All balloting will be considered absentee, something state election officials moved to in order to cut down on the number of potential in-person voters on Election Day. All voters were eligible to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot, with that deadline having passed Monday. Those ballots must be returned to the dropbox inside Lyon County Courthouse or postmarked by Tuesday.
Voters may also vote in-person on the absentee machine inside Duff’s courthouse office during regular business hours. Voting does not have to be scheduled, but there are still limits on the number of people allowed inside the office; and voters must wait their turn along with patrons for other business in the clerk’s office.
That voting continues through Monday.
And there is still in-person balloting on Election Day. But instead of the usual voting precincts, all voting will take place and the Lee S. Jones Convention Center. Three voting machines will be set up. Any registered voter who has not already voted may ballot at the convention center from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
This entire process is unprecedented in Kentucky, and Duff hopes things will be back to normal for the November presidential election.
Because all balloting is considered absentee due to the circumstances caused by public health concerns, voting totals from the county and state won’t be final until Tuesday, June 30, a full week after the election. That’s because mail-in ballots do not have to be received by the clerk’s office until Saturday, June 27. That gives ballots mailed by Election Day time to be processed and delivered by the postal service.
Ballots already turned in to Duff’s office are being counted, but clerks do not have to turn in their countywide totals until June 30. So results of all races — from presidential primaries to local races — will not be known in Kentucky until that evening.
All marked ballots will still be scanned by machines and tallied. Poll workers at the convention center on Election Day will be able to answer questions, or voters may call Duff’s office at 270-388-2331.
As of Thursday, 917 absentee ballots had been mailed out from Duff’s office, with a total of 1,223 applications submitted. In the 2016 presidential primary, fewer than 60 mail-in ballots were requested. Only 366 were applied for in the general election that year.
Those numbers help emphasize the unique nature of the election.
“We’ve had staff stay several hours after work and come in early (to process applications,” Duff pointed out.
But Duff said it is far too early to know what the plan for the presidential election in November will be.
For the primary, there are 6,530 registered voters in Lyon County. All are eligible to vote, as a non-partisan Kentucky Court of Appeal race is open to Democrats, Republicans and all independents and third parties. There are 2,344 Republicans and 3,733 Democrats in the county.
Voter turnout in the last presidential primary was only 26.5% in Lyon County, according to figures from the State Board of Elections.
A sample ballot for Tuesday’s election can be found below.