© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Widespread early voting begins Thursday in Kentucky. Here’s what to know

The jean-clad legs of a person are shown toward the front of the frame. The person is wearing gray shoes and standing on a sidewalk. Two pieces of art are spray-painted on the concrete. Both read 'VOTE' with three stars beneath them.
Phil Scroggs
Kentuckians can vote early in the May primary this week.

Polling locations across Kentucky will open Thursday through Saturday so people can vote early in this month’s primary election.

Kentucky voters don’t have to wait until Election Day to have their say in the May 21 primary races, thanks in part to the early voting option that will be available later this week.

“This is no-excuse early voting. That means you don’t have to have a reason. You just want to vote on Saturday, so you can vote on Saturday,” Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams told LPM News.

He said counties must keep polling sites open at least eight hours per day of early voting, but the specific timetable can vary by county.

The where and how

People can visit the govote.ky.gov website to see which early voting locations are closest to them and check when they’ll be open.

Jefferson County is running 16 early-voting polling sites. They’ll be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday.

“You don’t have to be at your home precinct,” said Ashley Tinius, spokeswoman for the county clerk’s office. “You can go to any of the locations that we have and they will check your ID and issue you a ballot, no questions asked.”

Voters who meet certain eligibility requirements also have the option to do excused, in-person absentee voting Monday through Wednesday. To cast a ballot that way, they can go to the Jefferson County Clerk Election Center at 1000 E. Liberty Street between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Primary elections historically bring in a low level of turnout among voters, and Tinius encouraged people to cast a ballot.

“When you’re pooled with other people in your district or your county, you’re going to make an impact on that outcome in the election,” she said. “The significance of exercising your rights … You can never overstate that.”

This year, 16% of state legislative races will be decided in the primary.That’s because the winner at the party level has no challenger from across the aisle in November.

‘The best way to defend early voting is to use it’

For a long time, Kentucky voters needed a state-approved reason to cast a ballot before Election Day.

That changed in 2020, when the state government allowed widespread early voting as an accommodation early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Then the Kentucky Legislature passed a law in 2021 that made this type of early voting a regular feature of state elections.

Adams oversees Kentucky elections and is a Republican who strongly supports early voting.

He opposed a bill several Republican state senators sponsored earlier this year that would’ve gotten rid of no-excuse early voting. The proposal’s lead sponsor, Republican state Sen. John Schickel of Union, has said Election Day is “sacred.”

The bill never came up for a vote in the Legislature this year.

“I’m really proud that we defended early voting successfully,” Adams told LPM.

“If we hadn't, we would’ve had some serious problems in November getting 2 million voters in and out on just one day. That’s quite an ordeal for our county clerks and poll workers,” he said of this fall’s presidential election. “It also would’ve been a huge blacking of our own eye to take away voting days.”

He said early voting benefits people who take advantage of it because they can zip in and out of the ballot box with no lines, and it benefits people who vote on Election Day because it helps minimize their wait times, too.

Adams encourages more voters to take advantage of early voting, adding, “The best way to defend early voting is to use it.”

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.