Clerk says election went smoothly, looking ahead to November

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, July 2, 2020

It was an election like none other in recent history, but Boyle County Clerk Trille Bottom said this year’s primary election went really well with high voter turnout and very few issues as election officials adjusted to voting during a global pandemic.

“Overall, I cannot complain,” Bottom said. “I think the election went as well as it could have with all the circumstances we had to deal with and all the things my staff and I had to learn.”

After going through this election and gaining the experience of new methods of voting in Kentucky, local election officials will be even more prepared for the general election in November if the state decides to allow early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots.

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“I think the election went well overall,” Bottom said. “I think there are some things that need to be tweaked and some things that we can do a little differently now that we know what to expect, and if this same scenario happens again, and I don’t know if it will, but if it does, then we have some things we can do to streamline the process and make things easier.”

Bottom said there were some issues with people not receiving their ballots, but it was a small number of people and simply an unfortunate thing that happened.

One way to improve the process, Bottom said, would be opening up more than one location for people wishing to vote early in-person. This was a popular method of voting during the primary as many people preferred to vote in-person as opposed to mail, but did not want to vote on election day.

During the primary, the only location for early voting in-person was the county clerk’s office.

“That’s what people are accustomed to,” Bottom said. “Normally, you don’t get to vote early unless you have an approved excuse. With no-excuse voting, we need to have more people to come and vote early.”

Bottom also said she believes the county will need to add more polling locations on election day in November. For the primary, only two locations were utilized. Those were the Boyle County Fire Station on Lebanon Road and First Christian Church on Lexington Avenue.

While having two polling places on election day for the primary seemed to work well with few reports of long lines and an overall smooth process, Bottom said more polling locations will be needed in November with what is expected to be a much larger turnout.

For instance, in the last presidential election in November 2016, 61 percent of Boyle County voters made their way to the polls.

“Two locations served us well for this election, but with the numbers that could potentially be coming out to vote in the fall, we’ll need more locations,” Bottom said.

One other key for the general election in the fall is education, Bottom said. If no-excuse absentee voting by mail is an option in the general election, Bottom said she hopes to be able to get the word out sooner and provide people with instructions on proper procedures for voting in this method.

Whether by video or written instructions, Bottom said she wants to make sure that people know how to properly cast their ballot and make sure their votes are counted. Everybody perceives things differently, Bottom said, so she hopes to take a multi-pronged approach to educating voters about the process.

“A lot of people were requesting ballots for the first time in their lives, so they weren’t familiar with that procedure and the steps they needed to take like signing both the inside and outside envelopes,” Bottom said. “I think we can do more. If we do this again in November, I’m going to try my best to be more proactive in getting the word out there on how to do this.”

Bottom said she is thankful for all the voters who participated in the primary and all those individuals and organizations that helped make for a smooth election.

“I’d just like to say thank you to all the voters who turned out on election day and all those who requested a ballot either through our office or through the portal,” Bottom said. “I just want to thank everyone for making it a great election and making the turnout something to look forward to in November.”