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Primary elections: Officials in Kentucky brace for long lines as dozens of polling stations close

Primary elections: Officials in Kentucky brace for long lines as dozens of polling stations close
Posted at 8:26 AM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 08:26:06-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The coronavirus pandemic has already triggered unprecedented election disruptions in the 2020 cycle. Now, those worried about suppressed turnout in the upcoming general elections are focused on Kentucky.

Voters in the Bluegrass State will vote in primary elections on Tuesday, and the virus has already had a stark impact on the election. In Louisville, the state's largest city, only one polling place has been designated.

That polling place will now serve as the only option for in-person voting on Tuesday for an area representing about 600,000 people — including a large portion of the state's Black population.

Voters who didn't cast mail-in ballots could face long lines — just as voters in Georgia did earlier this month when dozens of polling stations were closed due to COVID-19. During Georgia's primary, voters waited in line late into the night in Atlanta and Savannah in order to cast their ballots.

Kentucky turned to widespread mail-in absentee voting in an agreement between the state's Democratic governor and Republican secretary of state in response to the pandemic. But voters not requesting absentee ballots will have to show up Tuesday.

The state's primary, typically in late May, was delayed more than a month.

Voters in New York state will also vote in primary elections on Tuesday — days after election officials expressed concern about the state's mail-in voting system to The New York Times. Officials said Friday that thousands of ballots had yet to be delivered to voters, meaning they likely wouldn't arrive on time before Tuesday's election.

At stake are several high-profile primaries that could have a significant impact on the shape of Congress. In Kentucky, Charles Booker and Amy McGrath are facing off in a Democratic primary for the right to face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. McGrath, a moderate candidate, was the heavy favorite, but the progressive Booker has closed the polling gap in recent weeks.

In New York, Rep. Elliot Engle (D) — the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — is in danger of losing his seat to another progressive candidate, first-time candidate Jamaal Brown.