Warren County lawmakers are praising bipartisan legislation Gov. Andy Beshear signed Wednesday that will expand early voting in Kentucky.
The new law will provide three days of no-excuse, early in-person voting – including a Saturday – before Election Day. It also will allow counties to establish voting centers where any registered voter in each county can cast their ballot, regardless of their precinct.
State Reps. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, and Steve Sheldon, R-Bowling Green, both said the new law was a step in the right direction.
“I think it is a good start,” Minter said. “It incorporates many good things which we saw in the pandemic election in November. This is great bipartisan work by the assembly.”
Minter said she voted for the bill when it was in committee and when it reached the House floor.
Minter said people in Bowling Green across party lines told her how much they loved the no-excuse early voting model.
“While I do like how long people were given to early vote in November, three days for early voting is a good start,” Minter said.
Minter also said she is glad the portal to request mail-in ballots will be back again, as she thought it was very popular.
Sheldon echoed Minter’s thoughts, with an added focus on election safety.
“This is a great piece of bipartisan legislation,” Sheldon said. “This made sure that the integrity of our election is very much intact. It keeps everything moving smoothly. Extending the early voting period is a good thing. I’m very pleased with how this came out.”
The Associated Press said the new law restores pre-pandemic restrictions on who can vote by mail. It also will lead to a statewide transition toward universal paper ballots to guarantee a paper audit trail.
It also enhances state election officials’ ability to remove nonresidents from voter rolls. And it expressly prohibits and penalizes ballot harvesting, the practice of collecting ballots from likely supporters and returning them to election offices.
Sheldon said he is pleased with the accountability measurers featured in the measure that allow everyone the chance to vote.
Minter and Sheldon highlighted the bipartisan effort to get the new law passed during a time where some new voting laws at the state level have drawn national scrutiny, such as in Georgia.
“The Georgia law is an example of a law that is designed to deprive people of the right to vote,” Minter said. “This will allow more access to voting – not less. Kentucky looks really good on a national stage. I’m very proud of this great bipartisan work.”
Sheldon said Kentucky’s law was put together with input from county clerks across the state.
“It says a lot about Kentucky that we brought our Republican and Democratic parts of our state government together,” Sheldon said. “This was not a political pingpong ball. The rest of the nation will look at what we did.”
Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates said she is still going over more than 190 pages of the law.
Yates said she will wait until she reads and discusses the law with other clerks to be fully informed before saying anything about the legislation.
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.