At least 10-percent of Mercer County’s registered voters have already cast their ballots for the 2020 election.
According to Mercer County Clerk Chris Horn, 1,884 county residents had voted by Tuesday morning. That’s roughly 10-percent of the 18,744 people registered to vote in Mercer County. Horn said 167 voted this Saturday.
The numbers here in Mercer County match the numbers in the rest of the state. According to the U.S. Elections Project, 398,142 Kentuckians have already voted. That’s a little over 20-percent of the number that voted in the 2016 election.
Nationally, voters have cast nearly a quarter of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election, with over 34-million Americans having voted.
Early in-person voting will continue at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse (207 West Lexington Street) until Nov. 2. Voting will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on the next two Saturdays—Oct. 24 and Oct. 31—from 8 a.m. until noon.
While much of the attention has been focused on the races between Pres. Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden and between Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, there are two proposed constitutional amendments voters will consider this year.
Amendment 1 establishes a section to the Kentucky Constitution related to crime victims, also known as Marsy’s Law, and Amendment 2 changes the way voters elect some state court officials.
Marsy’s Law was adopted in 2018 and garnered nearly 871,000 (63 percent) “yes” votes but was overturned in 2019 when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled unanimously the amendment’s wording was too vague.
This year, the entire amendment—all 614 words—will be on the ballot. The measure would provide crime victims with specific constitutional rights, including the right to be treated with fairness and due consideration for the victim’s safety, dignity, and privacy; to be notified about proceedings; to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, or sentencing of the accused; to proceedings free from unreasonable delays; to be present at trials; to consult with the state’s attorneys; to reasonable protection from the accused and those acting on behalf of the accused; to be notified about release or escape of the accused; to have the victim’s and victim’s family’s safety considered when setting bail or determining release; and to receive restitution from the individual who committed the criminal offense.
Marsy’s Law is named after Marsy Nicholas, a senior at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. First passed in California in 2008, similar laws have been passed in nine states and are being considered in at least six others in addition to Kentucky.
While several groups, including the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association and the Kentucky State Police Professional Association, support Marsy’s Law, the Kentucky ACLU and the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers oppose it. In a press release, the ACLU said Marsy’s Law, “uses inconsistent and confusing language that would be at odds with Kentuckians’ constitutional rights, create significant unintended consequences and deny victims a path to seek legal remedies for violations of their rights.”
The ACLU also contends Marsy’s Law provides no guidance to lawmakers or judges on how to prevent violations of the rights guaranteed to all people by the U.S. Constitution and addresses “real financial concerns” by creating a need for substantial additional resources but “does not allocate any.”
Supporters say Marsy’s Law is necessary because state courts sometimes fail to take crime victims’ concerns into account, moving cases along to conclusion without even communicating with the people who were most seriously hurt by a crime. Even where there are existing laws, such as victim notification before an inmate is released, mistakes happen, and when they do, victims don’t have much legal recourse, according to a statement from supporters in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Constitutional Amendment 2 would increase the term of commonwealth’s attorneys from six to eight years beginning in 2030 and increase the term of district court judges from four to eight years beginning in 2022. It would also require district judges to have at least eight years of legal experience. Currently, the requirement for district judges is two years.
Amendment 2 was sponsored by Republican Representatives Jason Nemes, Derek Lewis, C. Ed Massey, and Speaker David Osborne.
Voting will be different this year. In Mercer County, there will be five local voting centers on election day. Mercer County Clerk Chris Horn said all precinct ballots will be available at each location on election day, so voters are free to vote at the location closest to them. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If there are long lines, he said anyone who is in line but has not been able to cast their ballot by 6 p.m. will still be allowed to vote.
How to Vote
• By Mail
If mail-in voters haven’t received their ballots through the mail, they will be able to vote in-person, Horn said. Voters can either return the ballot by mail or drop it off at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse (207 West Lexington Street).
• Early In Person
Early in-person voting will be available at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse (207 West Lexington Street) until Nov. 2. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. until noon on the next two Saturdays: Oct. 24 and Oct. 31.
• Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3)
Mercer County will have five countywide voting centers. All precinct ballots will be available at each location on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Lions Park Community Center (450 East Factory Street, Harrodsburg)
• National Guard Armory (500 Tapp Road, Harrodsburg)
• Burgin Baptist Church (433 East Main Street, Burgin)
• McAfee Fire Station (2805 Louisville Road, Harrodsburg)
• Cornishville Fire Department (4534 Cornishville Road, Harrodsburg)
For more information, call the Mercer County Clerk’s Office at 734-6310 or visit online at mercer.countyclerk.us.