The Independent has an article titled ‘It’s going to be an angry mob’: Kentucky cuts number of polling stations by 95 percent ahead of primary voting. The article claims:

In a typical election year, Kentucky has about 3,700 polling sites, according to most reports. When Election Day arrives on 23 June, there will be just 200 polling sites across the state — with some of those sites having to serve upwards of 600,000 residents.

The Washington Post explains it as follows:

Because of a shortage of workers willing to staff voting sites during the health crisis, each of the commonwealth’s 120 counties is opening a very limited number of polling locations. The two largest counties will have just one in-person location each.

It seems that at least one county won't have even one in-person voting location on election day. Woodford county, per Kentucky Secretary of State polling locations.

However, the very next paragraph of the WaPo article says

On Thursday evening, a federal judge rejected an effort to add polling places in the state’s largest counties, citing a legal standard discouraging last-minute court intervention in election procedures.

This sounds like there were people ready and willing to staff polling locations. So why were so many locations closed? I'm skeptical that these locations were actually closed because of "lack of volunteers."

  • 1
    @fredsbend I think this question can be answered with something along the lines of an official announcement from the KY SoS or Governor, that says why so many polling locations were closed -- I don't know who can authorize that, which is part of the question.
    – BurnsBA
    Jun 21, 2020 at 15:16
  • All I can find is the SoS recommendation that "shall empower all county clerks to reduce the number of sites". That just sounds like a recommendation. Then every single county just happened to decide to close all but a few polling locations? That's the nature of the question.
    – BurnsBA
    Jun 21, 2020 at 15:17
  • 1
    We are coming off a pandemic and many states compensating with mail-in voting.
    – fredsbend
    Jun 21, 2020 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


No, Kentucky did not cut polling locations by 95% due to lack of volunteers. The State cut polling stations as a precaution against the covid-19 pandemic.

The Lexington Herald Leader says

This is the last day to request an absentee ballot in Kentucky's 2020 primary

Every Kentuckian is being encouraged to vote by mail in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Here, the Hoptown Chronicle states

Coronavirus pandemic reshapes Kentucky’s 2020 primary

After the election was postponed for more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, Christian County residents will head to the polls Tuesday to select nominees for the presidency and the U.S. Senate, as well as some city council seats and the judgeship in the 1st Appellate District, Division 1.

There actually was a shortage of volunteers in some areas, but that was a result of the pandemic. A vulnerable section of the population is at risk

COVID-19 has also resulted in a shortage of poll workers. A typical election in Warren County requires 400 workers. County Clerk Lynette Yates says she only got 24 volunteers this time. “The average age for a lot of our poll workers for Warren County is 72,” said Yates. “They didn’t feel comfortable, and even people we’ve used that aren’t in that age bracket, they still didn’t feel comfortable doing it at this time.”

it has even been to court

In Kentucky’s three most populous counties of Jefferson, Fayette, and Kenton, there will only be one polling location, though a lawsuit is asking a federal judge to require more polling places. Secretary of State Michael Adams was originally named as a defendant, but has since been dismissed from the lawsuit.

The Courier Journal reports the outcome of that court case

Jefferson, Fayette counties will not have to add additional polling locations, judge rules

Kentucky's most populous counties will not have to offer more than one polling location on Tuesday's primary elections, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

and states futher down

Jefferson County officials: Having more than one polling site 'almost impossible'.

  • The Hoptown source says the county clerk is having DMV employees work the polling place, so it seems if a county wanted to have polling places open they could. So this doesn't really answer the question. Was it the KY SoS (or someone else?) who closed all the polling stations or did the KY SoS (or someone else?) delegate that to each county, and each county independently (but all together) decide to close almost all polling locations?
    – BurnsBA
    Jun 22, 2020 at 20:49
  • If this really was delegated to each county, then I think this is close to an answer (at least as far as skeptics.se is concerned).
    – BurnsBA
    Jun 22, 2020 at 20:55
  • Your question was "Did Kentucky cut polling locations by 95% due to lack of volunteers?" and this answer cites that the reduction in polling stations and volunteers was both due to the coronavirus. If there is a hurricane which destroys crops and the machinery to harvest them, then the lack of food is due to the hurricane, not to the shortage of equipment. Jun 22, 2020 at 21:03
  • @BurnsBA The size of a typical DMV is not comparable to the number of volunteers sought for election day. My county of 120K is served by two DMV locations, each with less than 25 employees, whereas, polling locations are probably 200-300, with 3-7 volunteers in each one.
    – fredsbend
    Jun 22, 2020 at 21:17
  • If the decision is up to each county, then this will answer the question I asked (though I will remain skeptical...). But if it's up to a single person like the governor, or secretary of state, then this doesn't answer the question because none of the sources cited (including the edit adding "The State...") give any justification from this person. (kentucky.com gives me immediate paywall). I created a new question on politics.SE to resolve this: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/54129/…
    – BurnsBA
    Jun 22, 2020 at 21:52

From In Kentucky, who is responsible for closing a polling location? - Politics SE

After Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delayed the primary from mid-May to June 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he issued an executive order requiring the Board of Elections to expand voting by mail, permit early voting, and limit contact among voters and poll workers during in-person voting. About a week later, the Board of Elections directed county clerks across the state to submit plans that included cuts to the number of polling locations in each county.

So it wasn't due to lack of volunteers, the Board of Elections asked each county to close polling locations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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