The coronavirus pandemic caused Kentucky’s 2020 primary election to be pushed back from May 19 to June 23 and has also caused changes in how the election will be handled.

Bell County Clerk Debbie Gambrel said the Bell County Board of Elections met last week to finalize local plans for the election based on the Executive Order set forth by Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams.

“We have a few different ways that people can vote,” Gambrel said. “Every way is not for everybody but there is a way for anybody in Bell County to vote.”

Expanded absentee voting by mail is encouraged by the State Board of Elections. A post card will be sent out to all registered voters informing them of the changes that have been made and how to get a ballot. The last day to request a ballot is June 15, 2020. Ballots can be requested by returning the postcard, contacting the County Clerk’s Office at 606-337-6143 or 606-337-6144, or by emailing Debbie.Gambrel@ky.gov or Kayla.Carnes@ky.gov.

A secure online portal for requesting ballots should be ready within two weeks or so at www.govoteky.gov. In the meantime, voters can go to www.govoteky.com to register or enter an updated address. Voters can register for the primary through May 26, 2020. Those without internet access can contact the Clerk’s office to update their address and for information on registering to vote.

“The state is wanting everybody to vote by mail, but I know everybody can’t,” Gambrel said. “The returned ballots have to be postmarked by June 23, 2020 and the state is paying for the postage or we’ll have a drop-box set up here at the Courthouse where they can drop it off.”

To accommodate voters who don’t have internet access or who don’t want to vote by mail, in-person absentee voting can be done by appointment at the Clerk’s Office in Pineville from June 1 through June 22.

On Election Day (June 23) one polling location will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Middlesboro Community Center on 30th Street. This site will be open to any registered voter who lives in Bell County that has not requested an absentee ballot.

“If you utilize in-person voting by appointment or by showing up at the polling location at the Middlesboro Community Center on Election Day, you are asked to wear a mask and have your driver’s license out and ready to speed up the voting process,” Gambrel said. “We ask that they get in and get out as quick as possible. It’s not a social event and we want everyone to keep up the social distancing to keep the voters and the workers safe.”

Races on the ballot for the primary include President of the United States, U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative to Congress. In addition all voters in the city of Middlesboro can vote yes or no on the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city.

“We recognize this is a new and unfamiliar way to vote. These regulations and changes are for this June 23, 2020 Primary ONLY,” Gambrel added. “If you have any questions please call the Bell County Voter Registration Department at 606-337-6143 or 606-337-6144.”

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