Apr 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Kentucky governor signs bipartisan bill expanding voting access

Gov. Andy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Photo: Scotty Perry/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Wednesday signed a bipartisan bill that expands voting access in the state.

Why it matters: The legislation, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, comes as Republicans in other states push for more voting restrictions. Last month, Georgia became the first battleground state to pass a law curbing voting access.

Details: The Kentucky law establishes three days of in-person early voting.

  • It also keeps in place some of the emergency features implemented due to the pandemic, including an online portal for absentee ballot registration, absentee drop boxes and voting centers where residents from any precinct can vote.
  • It establishes a process to cure deficient absentee ballots and requires a gradual switch to equipment that can process paper ballots.
  • The law gives state officials more authority to remove individuals from voter rolls if they have moved away and registered to vote in another state. And it prohibits and penalizes ballot harvesting, among other provisions.

Yes, but: "Kentucky already has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country," the Lexington Herald Leader notes.

What they're saying: “I firmly believe that we should be making it easier for Kentuckians to vote and participate in the democratic process,” Beshear said in a statement. “This new law represents important first steps to preserve and protect every individual’s right to make their voice heard.”

  • Beshear also said that while he wanted more in the bill, the legislation is a "win for Kentucky."
  • "While some states have stepped in a different direction, I'm really proud of Kentucky."
  • Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, added, "While other states are caught up in partisan division, Kentucky is leading the nation in making it both easier to vote and harder to cheat."
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