In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky officials offered expanded, no-excuse absentee voting in Kentucky’s June 2020 primary election. The measures were a success, but state officials did not take action to use the same rules for the general election, despite the continued threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this inaction, Fair Elections Center, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, and Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird LLP filed a case in state court to force the state to use the same successful process and ensure a safe election in November 2020.
In May 2020, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order to hold Kentucky's June 23 primary predominantly by mail. Under the administrative rule subsequently adopted by the Board of Elections, every registered Kentucky voter qualified to vote by mail. If they wanted to vote early in person, they could make an appointment with their clerk's office.
The plaintiffs argued that these same rules should apply for November’s general election, and that voters with disabilities should be granted the option of receiving their ballots electronically so that they could vote using the assistive technology on their computers. On August 14, 2020, the state issued a new set of rules that adopted plaintiffs’ requests.