Voter suppression protest

Donavan Pinner (right) holds a megaphone and sign that reads “count my vote” Wednesday in front of the old Christian County Courthouse. Pinner organized a protest against voter suppression, which successfully got early voting opened for walk-ins at the Christian County Clerk’s Office instead of only appointments.

On the precinct issue, Humphries said opening more than one location is nearly impossible, noting that the James E. Bruce Convention Center was chosen because it is equipped to hold a large number of people.

Voter advocacy groups across the state are urging counties to open more than one location, but Humphries said it’s not that simple.

“There are some things that our hands are tied on, but I am going to call Frankfort to see what we can do,” Humphries said of opening more than one precinct in Christian County. “We don’t have the places that we usually do — we can’t go to the day cares and churches — and the poll workers, most of mine are over 60 years old and I can’t ask them to work the polls.”

Pinner said he has a similar concern for voters being able to get to the polls.

“I understand why they have to be closed, but I’m hoping that one or two more (precincts) are open in communities that we know don’t have transportation to get to the polls at the convention center,” he said.

Pinner went a step further and reached out to city officials to see if Hopkinsville Transit can offer free rides to the convention center on Election Day.

“Right now, you have to request that they go out there,” he said. “I hope that people can use the bus system without having to pay that day because that’s still a form of a poll tax of getting people to the polls.”

Humphries, who has three full-time workers and three part-time workers, said she understands the concerns from citizens. She said the clerk’s office is working nonstop to make sure everyone can cast their vote.

Humphries said in addition to early voters, the office gets every absentee ballot request that’s made online. From there, they get the absentee ballot ready for the Hopkinsville Post Office staff, who then must cross check every voter and then mail it out. On Monday, Humphries said she sent over 1,400 absentee ballot packets to the post office.

“We just don’t go home,” she said of the staff. “Each ballot goes through a 10-step process before it’s mailed out. We’re not stopping.

“I know a lot of people are upset, but it’s three people against 53,000 registered voters, and I know all 53,000 aren’t going to vote. But even if it’s 20,000, this is still overwhelming,” she said.

Hiring additional staff at this point is not an option, due to credentials that are required to handle ballots, but she said she will look forward to hiring more people in the fall if the General Election must be handled this way.

“We’re credentialed state employees and we can’t just hire random people to handle people’s ballots,” she said. “We’re not complaining, but we’re not stopping. We’re working as hard and as diligently as possible to serve the citizens of Christian County.”

Completed absentee ballots can be mailed back in but must be postmarked by June 23 to be counted. Instead of mailing it, absentee ballots can also be dropped off at the Christian County Sheriff’s Office or in the drop box at the clerk’s office.

Primary election results will be announced June 30, Humphries said, to give time for mail-in votes to be counted.

Pinner said he wants to make sure that every obstacle that could stand in the way of voters on June 23 is removed.

“I believe this primary will have one of the highest voter turnouts because everyone wants to be heard,” he said. “Even if we don’t get additional precincts, I’d like to see lines around the courthouse of people trying to vote.”

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