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LWV of Kentucky Challenges Voter ID and Absentee Ballot Requirements during COVID-19

Voters’ Health and Voting Rights Must Be Protected in November

A link to this filing can be found here.

LOUISVILLE, KY—Today, the League of Women Voters of Kentucky (LWVKY) filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to invalidate the state’s recently-passed picture ID requirement for voting. The law in question, Senate Bill 2, was enacted via a veto override last month. The lawsuit also asks the state to allow expanded absentee balloting and other election accommodations so that Kentuckians can vote safely in the November General Election.

“We applaud the expansion of absentee voting for the 2020 Primary Election, but those changes have not been made for the November 2020 election, which is soon to come,” said Fran Wagner, President of the LWVKY. “We urged the Kentucky General Assembly not to enact additional barriers when it passed Senate Bill 2 and again when it overrode the Governor’s veto in March. The pandemic demonstrates yet another reason why such barriers make voting difficult for far too many. We are advocating for a Kentucky election process that ensures all citizens can vote without risking their health or that of their loved ones.”

The COVID-19 pandemic creates an unprecedented public health emergency and poses a threat to Kentuckians’ ability to participate safely in their electoral democracy. Health officials advise that the pandemic is likely to continue through 2020, until a vaccine is formulated and distributed. The barriers created by COVID-19, coupled with SB 2 requirements, will force voters to choose between protecting their health and safety and exercising their constitutional right to vote.

“COVID-19 presents new challenges for voters and election officials across the country, and now is certainly not the time to enact new barriers for voting,” said Chris Carson, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “During an ongoing global pandemic, states should be focusing on how to make elections safe and accessible. Kentucky’s absentee ballot requirements and new voter ID law only make it harder and more dangerous for voters to cast a ballot.”

The League of Women Voters of Kentucky is joined in this case by the Urban League of Kentucky and the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as individual plaintiffs Michael Collins, Jeffrey Cosby, Thela Elliot, Dominique Jones, Grace Lewis, Dejuan Nash, and Tiffany Price. The plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, ACLU Kentucky, Lawyers' Committee, and Covington & Burling LLP.

“Kentuckians should not be forced to choose between their health and their vote. Kentucky can and should protect voters by eliminating the photo ID requirement and allowing vote by mail in the November election because the spread of COVID-19 will remain a risk. Our lawsuit seeks sensible solutions to safely allow people to exercise their right to vote in a pandemic,” said Ceridwen Cherry, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

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Contact: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]