Tuesday's primary here in Kentucky is going to be a disaster than makes Georgia's mess look competent: Louisville and Lexington will have one polling station open each for hundreds of thousands of voters and voting-by-mail may take weeks before the results are known, with possibly tens or even hundreds of thousands who requested ballots being disenfranchised and never getting them by Tuesday's deadline.
And all of that falls on the shoulders of our Republican Secretary of State, Michael Adams.
Fewer than 200 polling places will be open for voters in Kentucky’s primary Tuesday, down from 3,700 in a typical election year. Amid a huge influx in requests for mail-in ballots, some voters still had not received theirs days before they must be turned in. And turnout is expected to be higher than in past primaries because of a suddenly competitive fight for the Democratic Senate nomination.
The scenario has voting rights advocates and some local elections officials worried that the state is careening toward a messy day marked by long lines and frustrated voters — similar to the scenes that have played out repeatedly this spring as the novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the 2020 primaries.
Because of a shortage of workers willing to staff voting sites during the health crisis, each of the commonwealth’s 120 counties is opening a very limited number of polling locations. The two largest counties will have just one in-person location each.
On Thursday evening, a federal judge rejected an effort to add polling places in the state’s largest counties, citing a legal standard discouraging last-minute court intervention in election procedures.
That means Jefferson County — the state’s largest, home to 767,000 residents and the city of Louisville — will have as its sole polling location a convention and expo center where voting booths have been set up about eight feet apart in a cavernous hall. About 1 in 5 residents in the county is African American, the largest black population in the state.
In Fayette County, the state’s second-largest county and home to Lexington, voters who want to cast ballots in person will have to head to the football field at the University of Kentucky, where voters will find hand-sanitizing stations and booths where they can fill out paper ballots and scan them through machines.
One precinct for what, four hundred thousand voters? Another for 150,000 in Fayette County?
This is absolute vote suppression and Adams is throwing up his hands.
Michael G. Adams, Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, said his office has been aggressively trying to reach voters through the news media and social media, encouraging them to vote by mail and seeking to reassure those worried that the expansion of mail voting will lead to fraud.
Adams launched an educational campaign around mail-in ballots with the slogan, “Easy to vote, hard to cheat.” The goal is to explain to voters that “absentee voting is a great concept and there are laws in place about how it works,” he said.
“I’m much more concerned about voter confusion than I am about people trying to steal an election,” Adams said.
Like many states, Kentucky relaxed the rules of who can vote absentee by applying the “medical emergency” excuse to fear of the coronavirus.
More than 937,000 voters requested early ballots as of Wednesday, or 27 percent of all registered voters in the state, Adams said.
And tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, won't get their ballot in time.
It's going to be an absolute disaster. Adams has had months to prepare for this and he's dropped the ball. Regardless of who wins between Charles Booker and Amy McGrath for the right to take on Mitch McConnell in November, there's no reason to believe the primary results will be accurate.
It should mean Adams's resignation.
It won't, of course.
And where is Gov. Beshear in all this? Andy better get off his ass if he wants to not face a primary from either McGrath or Booker in 2023.
Come on, guys.