Democratic politicians, celebrities and others are speaking out ahead of Kentucky's primary election on Tuesday, after the number of polling places in the state has been drastically reduced amid the coronavirus pandemic.
State election officials will open 170 polling places, down from just under 2,700 locations in a usual year, CNN reported Monday. The state’s two most populous counties — Jefferson and Fayette — are each set to have only one polling place.
The election has already seen an influx of mail-in ballots. The Kentucky Secretary of state’s office confirmed Monday that it has issued 867,311 mail-in ballots and received 442,919 from voters, according to CNN.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams slammed the smaller number of locations, tweeting that “Voter suppression is no longer billy clubs & Jim Crow. It’s closed polling sites + 6 hr waits w/o pay. COVID is no excuse.”
Voter suppression is no longer billy clubs & Jim Crow. It’s closed polling sites + 6 hr waits w/o pay. COVID is no excuse.— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) June 20, 2020
Who needs to vote in person? The disabled. The homeless or displaced. Voters w/language barriers. Folks who didn’t get their ballots in time. Americans. https://t.co/i0H764SGYo
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (I-Vt.) called for leaders to “make it easier to vote—not harder,” tweeting Monday that “No one should be forced to wait in line for hours to participate in our elections.”
We must make it easier to vote—not harder. No one should be forced to wait in line for hours to participate in our elections.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2020
Our job is to fight racist voter suppression everywhere, restore the Voting Rights Act, and create a vibrant democracy. https://t.co/ECnvxxuydl
Sen Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Minn.) called the smaller number of polling locations this year “voter suppression” and “insidious.”
“Voting should be safe & easy. Let’s make that a reality,” Klobuchar tweeted.
KY usually has 3,700 polling locations. Tuesday, there will be 200—with only ONE in the largest county where most of the Black population of KY lives.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 22, 2020
This is voter suppression—it’s insidious.
Voting should be safe & easy. Let’s make that a reality. https://t.co/7MNCHBvLcx
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDOJ sues to block JetBlue-American Airlines partnership On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership MORE (D) tweeted that “Each Election Day this year, including tomorrow's in Kentucky, is a test of the health of our democracy. There is no excuse for electoral dysfunction or voter suppression, especially when it harms Black and brown voters. #AllEyesOnKentucky.”
Each Election Day this year, including tomorrow's in Kentucky, is a test of the health of our democracy. There is no excuse for electoral dysfunction or voter suppression, especially when it harms Black and brown voters. #AllEyesOnKentucky https://t.co/RLpT2SIZR0— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) June 22, 2020
Celebrities also took to social media to express concerns ahead of the Tuesday election.
NBA star Lebron James warned that the closure of polling locations “is SYSTEMIC RACISM and OPPRESSION,” referencing the long lines and mass confusion during Georgia’s primary elections earlier this month.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) vowed to launch an investigation following the election, which he called "unacceptable."
Actor Reese Witherspoon shared that “This primary on Tuesday is SO important and voting has become very confusing ! Dont let that stop you,” alongside a phone number for voters to find their polling place.
Hey there , Kentucky friends! This primary on Tuesday is SO important and voting has become very confusing ! Dont let that stop you. Call (833) GOVOTEKY to find your polling place . (833) 469-6935 Make your voice heard! #vote #AllEyesOnKentucky— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) June 22, 2020
A federal judge last week rejected an effort from Kentucky state Rep. Jason Nemes (R) and a group of Kentucky voters to add additional polling places, The Washington Post reported.
Federal Judge Charles R. Simpson III held on Thursday that the election procedures amid the ongoing pandemic are not an infringement of voting rights, citing expanded absentee voting and early in-person voting.