KY Secretary of State talks primary election in the midst of COVID-19 outbreak

Photo: WKYT/Garrett Wymer
Photo: WKYT/Garrett Wymer(WKYT)
Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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Earlier this week, state officials announced they’re moving the spring primary because of coronavirus concerns.

They say, however, they’re having to continue to re-evaluate as the situation evolves.

"It's a lot to bear at one time,” says Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams. “All of these different concerns, and it's my job to govern in a way that's neutral, responsible and informed and make these hard decisions."

Secretary Adams says he and his staff are still looking through the law to see what more they can do if they need to. He and Governor Beshear already agreed to push the Primary back to June 23.

"It gives us two options. One option is that five weeks from May 19 the worst will be over and we can have a pretty normal election, the other option is we won't be able to, but it'll give us lead time to prepare for that unique circumstance we're facing," says Secretary Adams.

While preparations for the primary are obviously the top priority, Secretary Adams says his office is still keeping an eye on November, but keeping in mind that there are no certainties about how long the coronavirus situation will last.

"The primary, if it goes through with us having to take some of these steps, will be a good learning experience for what does and doesn't work that will help us for November," says Adams.

The secretary says he has also heard calls for mail-in voting. He says he’s skeptical of the idea normally, but given the circumstances, he’s open to hearing more. At the same time, however, there are logistics, equipment, and costs to be worked out if voting goes that route.

"I don't have a magic wand. None of us do,” says Secretary Adams. “We're going to do our best with the powers that we have, and if we don't think they're adequate, we'll ask for more running room from the legislature to make sure we can have a successful election."

Adams says the most important thing is for folks to feel confident to have their voices heard.