Ky. Secretary of State talks about COVID-19 and possible impact on primary election

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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Kentucky's chief election officer is keeping an eye on the coronavirus and hopes it won't affect voting.

With the Kentucky primary two months away the Secretary of State Office is getting busier by the day.

"We're talking on a daily basis with county clerks, with members of the state board of elections," said Secretary of State Michael Adams R-Kentucky.

A big concern is COVID-19 and how it will affect voting.

"We're going to see if the impact of this has decreased our recruiting of poll workers. My hope is that it hasn't," said Adams.

Adams says the state already struggles with getting enough poll workers, many of whom are over the age of 65, the same group of people health officials are urging to stay away from large crowds as the virus spreads.

It's hard to predict how long COVID-19 will spread, but Adams says at this point there's no need to declare a state of emergency.

"State law provides for me and the governor to jointly declare a delay of an election in case of emergency. I'm not prepared to do that, I don't think the governor is either. But if we do so, we have to do so together," said Adams.

In the meantime, he says his office is reviewing how other states with past primaries have handled the situation.

"The biggest thing that we're getting from our counterparts in other states is just wipe down the election equipment. Constantly take your wipes and wipe down the machines and pens people are using to vote," said Adams.

He's hoping the virus will have slowed down by May, but he's confident the primary will run smoothly.

"This virus has been around for a while. We've had voting in other states and people are still showing up. They're courageous. They want to play their role in our system. I think we'll see that in Kentucky as well," said Adams.

Secretary Adams says his office will continue to monitor the virus and follow recommendations of state and federal officials.