During this summer’s primary election, I was one of approximately 750,000 Kentucky voters who – wary of setting foot inside a polling place during a global pandemic – chose to cast a ballot by mail. I can still remember tearing open the large package that arrived on my doorstep. Eager to make my voice heard, I spread out its contents–a ballot, a yellow envelope, and a white envelope–and thought to myself, “This is confusing. What am I supposed to do now?”
Apparently, I was not alone. Though Secretary of State Michael Adams called the primary a “nationally recognized success,” more than 32,000 Kentuckians saw their ballots rejected this year for one reason or another. Almost half of these tossed ballots came from Jefferson and Fayette Counties–locales with the two largest populations of African Americans in the state. With many more voters expected to show up in November’s general election, there’s a chance that even more people could see their ballots go uncounted.
Despite this potential risk, when I went looking for a simple, easy-to-follow guide for how to vote by absentee ballot, I found pretty much nothing. So, after studying the reasons behind many of this summer’s rejected ballots and having an informal chat with University of Kentucky election law professor Josh Douglas, I teamed up with Kentucky for Kentucky to put together this guide on how to vote absentee in the state.
Filmed and edited by Brandon Turner, Unsung Hero Media
The basics are as follows:
- Voters can register through Oct. 5.
- Registered voters who are concerned about COVID-19 can request an absentee ballot until October 9.
- When you receive your absentee ballot, fill out your ballot using a pencil or a blue or black pen.
- Put the completed ballot in the yellow envelope. Sign it and seal it. But don’t remove the perforated flap.
- Put the yellow envelope in the white envelope. Sign it and seal it.
- When you sign both envelopes, don’t try out a fancy new signature. Sign your name the way you did when you registered to vote or when you got your driver’s license.
- Completed ballots must be postmarked or dropped off at secure locations provided by your county clerk by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 6. But do not wait until the last minute. Do it now!
Also, if you don’t want to vote by absentee ballot, there’s plenty of time to vote in person. To lessen the chance of spreading COVID at packed polling places on a single day, early voting begins Oct. 13 and will take place all-day, every day of the workweek and for at least half a day on Saturdays. However you choose to cast your ballot, get out there and vote.
Daniel Freed is a television producer and journalist who lives in Lexington with his wife and two sons. His book, Call Me Commander: A Former Intelligence Officer and the Journalists Who Uncovered His Scheme to Fleece America, will be released in February.