Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Wednesday signed a bipartisan bill aimed at expanding voter access. The bill, among other measures, allows for up to three days of early voting, establishes voting “super centers,” where voters from any precinct can vote, and creates an online portal for absentee ballot registration.
The legislation also includes some restrictions, including prohibiting third-party collection of mail-in ballots. It additionally gives state officials more authority to remove individuals from voter rolls if they have died or moved to another state.
The bill was approved last week by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature.
As The New York Times noted, Kentucky is the only state with a Republican-controlled General Assembly that has moved to improve voter access since the November election loss of former President Donald Trump. In contrast, states including Georgia, Arizona and Texas have been taking steps to curb voter rights.
Beshear said Wednesday that he was proud of his state.
“We showed during this pandemic that we can vote in a safe way, that we can eliminate any concerns about fraud while expanding access so everyone can make sure that they can cast their ballot,” Beshear told the Lexington Herald Leader. “While some states have stepped in a different direction, I am really proud of Kentucky.”
But as the Herald Leader noted, Kentucky — even with the new legislation in place — has some of the most prohibitive voting rules in the nation. The state’s voting laws are even more restrictive than those in Georgia, where legislation significantly curtailing voting rights was passed last month and signed into law.
Beshear acknowledged that Kentucky could do more to empower voters but said the new bill was nonetheless a win for the state.
“Listen, this is a session we saw a lot of battles in, and to be able to come together and expand, at least in part, our access to the ballot box is a win for Kentuckians,” Beshear told the Herald Leader.
Michael Adams, Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, echoed this sentiment.
“Kentucky actually had probably, until this point, the most restrictive laws in the country on voting,” Adams, a vocal advocate for the bill, told the Times. “And that’s what we’re trying to change.”