Kentucky lawmakers passed an election reform bill on Monday night with wide 91-3 bipartisan support to expand voting access and strengthen election security protections.
“My campaign slogan was ‘make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,’ and this bill does both,” Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams told Courier-Journal.
The bill has been delivered to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and awaits his signature to become law.
“Running clean elections should not be a partisan issue,” Adams said in a statement. “I hope Governor Beshear will tune out the extremists in his party and sign this commonsense legislation.”
The bill, HB 574 (pdf), allows three days of in-person early voting—including a Saturday—before Election Day. It allows people to “cure” or fix any rejected absentee ballots.
Republican lawmakers had turned down proposals for weeks of early in-person voting, eventually accepting three days of in-person early voting as a compromise with Democrats.
The bill would also allow counties to establish vote centers, where any voter in the county can vote regardless of the precinct in which they are registered. It would maintain an online portal for voters to request a mail-in ballot.
As to election security, the bill requires counties to gradually phase out electronic-only voting systems and switch to equipment that can process paper ballots. The bill also instructs state election officials to remove nonresident voters from voter rolls, and expressly prohibits and penalizes ballot harvesting.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky had prohibitions for early voting by mail or in-person, with some stringent exceptions.
During the general election last year, multiple weeks of early in-person voting were allowed to prevent a crush of Election Day voting.
Former President Trump won Kentucky in the general election last year.
“The end result makes our commonwealth a great example of what can be done to improve election integrity while still allowing appropriate access to Kentucky voters,” Republican House Speaker David Osborne said, praising efforts of bill sponsors to reach out to interest groups and lawmakers for finding “common ground.”
The state House first passed the bill on Feb. 26. The state Senate passed the bill on March 16 with some amendments. The House passed these amendments on Monday with wide support in a 91-3 vote. Republicans lead both chambers of the Commonwealth legislature and have the supermajority to override the governor’s veto.
Democratic Gov. Beshear didn’t announce if he would sign the bill. His office didn’t respond immediately to a request from The Epoch Times for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.