Kentucky Senate Passes Election Reform Bill

March 17, 2021 Updated: March 17, 2021

The Kentucky Senate on Tuesday approved a major election reform bill on a bipartisan vote, paving the way for the measure’s final passage once the Senate amendments are approved by the commonwealth’s House of Representatives.

The state senators voted 33-3 on March 16 to approve an omnibus bill that would, once enacted, establish three days of no-excuse early voting, mandate a universal paper ballot across the state, and prohibit ballot harvesting, among other provisions.

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams praised the Kentucky Senate for passing the bill.

“I’m grateful to our state senators for putting voters first,” Adams said, according to WKDZ. “Our legislators deserve enormous credit for making Kentucky’s election system a national model in the 2022 elections and beyond.”

The bill will also retain an online voter portal, which will make absentee balloting transparent to the voters and officials. The bill will also make it easier for election officials to clean up the voter rolls, according to WKDZ.

All eight of the Democratic Senators voted in favor of the bill.

Kentucky’s push to reform election laws is part of a nationwide wave of election reforms set in motion by the controversy surrounding the results of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats and Republicans in 50 states have introduced more than 1,600 election-related bills. Only about 200 have made it out of a committee so far.

A handful of the bills have become law but none in the battleground states contested after Nov. 3 last year, based on data from Voting Rights Lab, an advocacy group co-founded by former executives of Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety gun control group.

Republican voters have demanded election security measures be implemented—particularly in states where the GOP controls the legislatures but Democrat President Joe Biden claimed victory. Democrats argue that the Republican efforts are aimed at making voting more difficult.

The state-level legislative activity is concurrent to Democrats in Congress advancing a major federal election reform bill titled For the People Act. The bill would federalize many of the state-level changes made ahead of the 2020 election, including no-excuse mail voting.

Republicans argue that the bill would be a fatal blow to the integrity and security of U.S. elections. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that if the bill becomes law it would be very difficult for Republicans to win in elections.

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