Kentucky on Wednesday became the only state in the country to have a Republican-controlled legislature to extend voting rights this year, as Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, signed a bipartisan law that cuts against the push in many GOP-led states across the country to put up voting barriers.
“When much of the country put in place more restrictive laws, lawmakers in Kentucky, leaders in Kentucky were able to come together to defend democracy and expand the ability for people to vote,” Beshear said at the time. a signing ceremony.
Kentucky law establishes three days of early voting in the state; introduced voting centers that would provide more options for in-person voting; creates an online portal to register and request ballots; and enables voters to resolve problems with mail-in ballots, a process known as healing.
The reasons Kentucky Republicans have diverged over voting rights range from politics to logistics. On the one hand, they had an easier sale: With sweeping new rules allowing the 2020 election to run safely during the coronavirus pandemic, Kentucky Republicans have had one of their best cycles in years. , with Senator Mitch McConnell and President Donald J. Trump easily winning in the state.
And expanding access to voting in Kentucky was a low bar to cross; the state had some of the toughest voting laws in the country before 2020, with not a single day of early voting and strict limits on absentee voting.
Kentucky Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly supported and celebrated the bill, calling it a welcome bipartisan achievement. But supporters of the right to vote have been more quiet, pointing to the relatively limited scope of the legislation and its mix of measures, such as the introduction of a short period of early voting, as well as new restrictions announced under the banner of the electoral security. They warn the proposal represents a modest improvement in a state long hostile to voting rights – a fact even the Tories have recognized.
“Kentucky had probably, so far, the most restrictive voting laws in the country,” said Michael Adams, the Republican Secretary of State, who was the main force behind the bill. “And that’s what we’re trying to change.”