A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Voting today; expect lines at the polling places as sizable numbers are expected to turn out

Despite a large number of voters in Kentucky who have taken advantage of absentee balloting or early in-person voting, a sizeable number are still expected to turn out Tuesday on Election Day itself.

Expanded absentee and early in-person voting occurred for the first time this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and an agreement on executive orders, put together by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams.

According to Adams, as of Sept. 30, 3,565,428 Kentuckians were registered to vote, a jump of 47,861 registered voters since the end of August.

As of Sunday, Adams’ office reported 574,574 absentee ballots had been returned to county clerks offices across the state either through the mail or at drop-off locations, while another 933,403 Kentuckians had taken advantage of 19 days of early in-person voting.

Breaking down the numbers by party, Democrats preferred absentee voting more than Republicans, with the reverse being the case on in-person early voting days.

Democrats cast 374,610 absentee ballots as of November 1, compared to 162,845 among registered Republicans. For in-person, it was 511,062 Republicans and 365,974 registered Democrats. That makes the early voting totals 740,584 for Democrats and 673,907 Republicans.

Still, Adams is expecting a busy day on Tuesday. With a 70% turnout prediction, and 1,507,983 ballots cast as of November 1, including those registered as independent or other political parties, that means another 988,000 voters to reach that forecast, less the number of ballots cast on Monday, the final day of early in-person voting.

For those waiting to vote on election day itself, polling locations may be different from normal years due to the pandemic. They also may differ from the early in-person voting locations as well as those to drop off absentee ballots.

Every valid vote — cast early, by mail, or on Election Day — has to be counted, so don’t expect a quick result. Projecting votes does not mean counting votes. It’s the counting that matters.

No state ever reports final results on election night; the votes have to be officially certified.

Heavy turnout is expected across the country. And in some states, mail-in ballots returned and early voters already outnumber the total votes in 2016. Also in some states — not Kentucky, mail-in votes cannot even be opened until election day. In Kentucky, mail-in votes can be opened and processed — but not counted until election day. So, heavy voting will put stress on the system. Some results will take days, not hours, to count.

Gabrielle Summe, Kenton County Clerk, is projecting an 80% turnout. The 2016 turnout — as an example — was 73,120. Today there are 142,126 registered voters in Kenton County, so an 80% turnout would be 113,700 voters.

The number of mail-in ballots mailed out was 24,258 and the number returned as of Monday afternoon was 22,228. Early voters added 35,534 as of Monday afternoon, for a total already voted of 57,762.

To meet the projection, then, some 55,938 voters will show up at the polls or return mail-in ballots. In Kentucky mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 6 p.m. election day AND received by Nov. 6.

Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. said 92% of mail-in ballots had been received and there were over 51,000 early voters. He expects long lines at some of the eight polling locations in Lexington. He suggests going to the Dunbar Center which has had fewer voters.

There are 202,639 registered voters in Fayette County.

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Find your polling location here.

Kentucky Today and staff report

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