By Ralph Dickerson
The election season kicks into full swing this coming Tuesday, October 13 as early voting begins. Voting starts at 8 a.m. in the Hancock County Administration Building. At this time officials are continuing to work on the exact location for the voting machine inside the administration building.
“This is the first election in which we have no excuse early voting,” Ogle said. “Based on the phone calls, I think the first day is going to be a very busy day.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, states revamped their election procedures. In Kentucky, voters possess the option to vote either by mail, or by voting machine. Early voting runs through Monday, November 2.
“Early voting times are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday,” Ogle said. “A person comes in and votes the same as they would on Election Day at their normal polling place.”
Ogle said people wanting to take advantage of early voting need to bring in their ID just like on normal election days to receive their ballot. They simply fill it out there and scan it into the machine.
“We will have poll workers coming in and working just like they would on Election Day,” Ogle said. “Our goal is to have four poll workers there manning it, just like it would be on Election Day.”
On November 3rd an option also exists for a person to vote in-person at a polling location in the county. Ten voting precincts exist in Hancock County, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic a major change occurs in where people vote this year. The county plans to open just three voting locations on Election Day.
“We are hoping to have three voting super centers available on Election Day,” Ogle said. “One at North Hancock Elementary, one at South Hancock Elementary and one at the high school. You can go to any one of these locations to vote, no matter what precinct you are registered in. You have to make sure you have updated your registration so you get the right ballot for the area in which you live.”
Ogle said the voting takes place in each school’s gym, which gives enough space for people to safely social distance, but to also be inside out of the weather in case it is raining or cold. Ogle said the county chose those locations due to the schools being centrally located, and for the ability to modify them for COVID-19 regulations.
“We can come in one entrance and exit out another entrance,” Ogle said. “It will provide everyone the safety we need in order to give everybody the opportunity to vote on Election Day.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voters possess the opportunity to vote by mail if they do not feel comfortable or safe going to the polls and voting in person. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is fast approaching.
“The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Friday, October 9,” Hancock County Clerk Trina Ogle said. “This coming Friday is the last day to request a mail-in absentee ballot.”
Two ways exist for residents to receive an absentee ballot. They can call her office and request a ballot. The resident must give his or her social security number, a mailing address for the ballot, and a phone number.
“The turnaround time is usually about a week from the time they request it,” Ogle said. “It goes out within that week and they can mail it back to us or bring it in.”
Residents also can go to the website govoteky.com and request a ballot. The same procedure applies: residents must give a social security number, address and phone number. These items verify the voter’s identity.
If a voter requests and receives an absentee ballot in the mail but then changes his or her mind and tries to vote in-person poll workers will not allow them to vote. The voter rolls precinct workers use to verify a voter’s identity will show they requested an absentee ballot, which makes him or her ineligible to vote in-person. For that reason, if a resident requests an absentee ballot, do not lose it. Fill it out immediately and send it in to the clerk’s office.
Ogle said residents choosing to vote by absentee ballot have two options on how to get their ballot back to the Hancock County Clerk’s office. They can mail it back with the enclosed postage paid envelope, or drop it in the ballot box located outside the clerk’s office on the second floor of the Hancock County Administration Building in Hawesville.
“As long as we receive them in the ballot box by November 3rd, or if they are postmarked by November 3rd we can still count them,” Ogle said. “We have a window until November 6th to accept mail-in ballots that are postmarked by November 3rd. If we were to receive a ballot postmarked November 3rd, but it comes in on November 7th or November 8th, we would not be able to count it because everything has to be in and totaled by November 6th.
Ogle said her office must certify the election results by November 10th.