Whitesburg KY

Some voting may begin this Friday

Kentucky voters who intend to vote by mail-in ballot may do so by signing up for a ballot online now, and Letcher County residents might be able to vote in person beginning Friday.

The Friday opening for the absentee machine in the Letcher County Clerk’s office is still up in the air, since the company that supplies the voting machines isn’t scheduled to be here to train election officials until Thursday, but Clerk Winston Meade said he hopes to open it the day after training.

“We don’t even have the machine yet,” he said.

The web address for requesting ballots is www.govoteky.org and will redirect to a page on the Secretary of State’s site where voters can request that a ballot be mailed to them to complete and return to their local county clerk’s office.

The Kentucky Board of Elections, after consulting with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, opened voting by mail for the primary to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling places. In Minnesota, 67 people who voted in person in that state’s April 9 election later tested positive for COVID-19, though scientists say they cannot prove they contracted the disease at the polls because of other contacts those patients had. Kentucky is requiring clerks to have only one polling place open, and has sent voting machines that leave a paper trail to be used. Meade’s office should have all three of those by Thursday, he said, but he also hasn’t received the absentee ballots that are supposed to be mailed.

Meade said residents who contact the web site will have to wait while the state mails address labels to his office, and again while his office attaches the labels and mails the ballots. That’s in addition to the ballots requested from his office by phone.

“We’ve already had 225 requests for applications for the ballot,” Meade said Tuesday morning.

Once voters receive their ballots, they should fill them out, place them in the envelope that is provided and mail them back or, if they don’t trust the mail, drop them in a drop box that will soon be installed in the clerk’s front office, which is the first door on the right after entering through the front doors of the Letcher County Courthouse.

Meanwhile, Meade said he has continued to receive angry phone calls because of the election, including at least one caller from Arizona who claimed the state’s web site said he has 49 voting machines on hand and questioned why he says he only has three. Meade said he has no idea where the person got the idea he has 49 machines.

Meade said the calls continued at his home over the Memorial Day weekend until he couldn’t sleep Monday night.

“I’d like people to start calling the state board of election and start asking them why they did away with our old voting machines,” he said.

Meade said the county has only three machines and one of those will be set up as an absentee machine in his office. The other two will be used at Letcher County Central High School, the only polling place that will be open on the June 23 Primary Election Day. Residents should make an appointment to vote at the clerk’s office, and wear a mask when they go the polls at the courthouse or at the school.

If residents want to vote by paper ballot and can’t use the Internet to request a ballot, they can call Meade’s office. The office set up a new telephone number to deal only with election-related calls. The number is (606) 536-9564.

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