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State and local elections officials discuss upcoming election with county leaders

By Susan Riddell
Secretary of State Michael Adams and State Board of Elections executive director Jared Dearing joined county clerks for a KACo workshop on administering an election during a pandemic.

Secretary of State Michael Adams said he loses a lot of sleep at night thinking about the upcoming elections.

What is he most concerned about? Getting the correct information to all voters about what their options are from today up until the November election.

“We have all these great (voting) options, but some people don’t know what they are,” Adams said Wednesday during the virtual KACo Leadership Institute class on elections. “I am reliant on opportunities like this. It’s another challenge getting information to the voters.

“It’s never been more convenient in Kentucky history to cast your ballot,” Adams added.

He reminded officials of the four ways to vote this year: mailing in an absentee ballot, turning in an absentee ballot in a dropbox at the county clerk’s office, voting in person on Election Day, or voting in person the three weeks prior to Election Day.

Adams presented first at the session, and he was followed by Jared Dearing, who is executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections. A panel of county clerks – Tabatha Clemons (Grant County), Jason Denny (Anderson County), Jeff Hancock (Franklin County) and Gabrielle Summe (Kenton County) – concluded the session, and KACo is grateful to all the speakers and member participants for sharing such important information at such a critical time.

Adams shared his efforts to get more poll workers for Election Day, like offering incentives. One effort – asking local craft brewers to add poll worker information on their labels, helped gather more than 1,000 volunteers. 

But he said Kentucky still needs more poll workers despite the state having less precincts open to voters on Nov. 3. Funding for elections is another issue he’s currently addressing.

Dearing, who has met virtually on multiple occasions with county clerks since the pandemic began, went over many of the election details during the class, giving updates on voting equipment and plans for the next election cycle, among others.

During the county clerk panel, clerks praised the collaboration already happening, but they also noted that the pandemic has given clerks the opportunity to really study voting practices to see if they are outdated and potentially need modifications. 

“I do think we are going to have to look at our voter demographics and our needs in the future and reevaluate how to vote in Kentucky,” Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny said.

Panelists indicated they are working diligently to make sure elections run smoothly in the future, but their top priority is that’s the case for Nov. 3.

Grant County Clerk Tabatha Clemons compared the upcoming election to a basketball game.

“You can’t tweak anything after the election. When the buzzer goes off, that’s it,” Clemons said. “We’ve got only one shot to make sure that it’s right.”

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