Voting in Kentucky

Kentucky Republican Presidential Caucus and other Primary Elections
This year the Republican Party held a caucus, March 5, 2016 to determine how Kentucky will vote for the Republican nominee for president. Primary elections for all other Republican races and the Democratic races will be on the usual Primary Election Day, Tuesday, May 17.

Voting In Kentucky

Who may register to vote
When and where to register
Registering your party affiliation
Changing party affiliation
Change of name
What if I move?
About college students

When and where to vote
Operating the voting machine
Voting absentee

Who may register to vote?

  • A native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years old by the date of the general election
  • A resident of the state and county at least 28 days before the election
  • A convicted felon whose civil rights have been legally restored
  • Any citizen who has not been judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law
  • Any citizen who does not claim the right to vote outside Kentucky

When and where do I register?

You must be registered at least 28 days prior to an election in order to vote in that election. Registration books are closed from the fourth Tuesday preceding through the first Monday following an election.

As of March 2016, you may register or make changes in your registration online at

You may also use the printable version of the Kentucky voter registration form here. Alternatively, a printable version of the federal voter registration (which can be used in place of the Kentucky form) can be found here.

Any voter registration form can be mailed in to your County Clerks office, the address of which can be found here.

Voter Registration forms can also be found and turned in at:

  • County Clerk’s office
  • Driver’s License office, if you are applying for or renewing your driver’s license
  • K-TAP, Food Stamp, Medicaid, WIC and state funded offices serving those with disabilities if you are a client of the Public Assistance office
  • Armed Forces Recruitment offices, if you are a prospective member of the Armed Forces
  • Public High School if you are a student or work at the school

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Registering your party affiliation

Kentucky allows registration for three political distinctions:

  • Democratic Party
  • Republican Party
  • Other (designate the political organization)

Kentucky has closed party primary elections. This means you must register with a party to vote in that party’s May primary election. In Kentucky, the Democratic and Republican parties are the only parties holding primary elections at this time. If you register as “Other,” you may vote in non-partisan, city, judicial, and school board primaries if they are included on the ballot. All eligible registered voters may vote in the November general election and special elections.

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Changing party affiliation

You may change your party affiliation at any time. Simply fill out a new registration card and send it to your county clerk. However, you must do this on or before December 31st to be eligible to vote in the following year’s primary election.

What if I change my name?

The county clerk needs the most uptodate information as possible. There are three ways to update your voter registration when you change your name:

  • Renew or update your driver’s license
  • Notify the county clerk by writing or stopping by the office
  • Submit a new voter registration card
  • Make the change 0nline at

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What if I move?

  • Within the county — update your address at the county clerk’s office or when you update your driver’s license. If you fail to do this before election day you may still vote, but you must go to the proper precinct for your new address and change your registration information there.
  • To a different county more than 28 days before election day — update your address in the new county at least 29 days before the election. If you fail to notify the county clerk in either the old or the new county, you will not be eligible to vote.
  • To a different county less than 28 days before election day — you may vote in your old county for this election only.
  • Outside Kentucky on a temporary basis — if you remain eligible to vote in Kentucky you may vote by absentee ballot.

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About College Students

Students who will be away from home on election day may vote in one of two ways. They may request an absentee ballot from their home county’s county clerk, or they may re-register in the county where they reside while attending school.

Where and when do I vote on Election Day?

If you are newly registered or if your polling place changes, your county clerk will send a notice in the mail giving the name of your precinct and the location of your voting place.

If you are unsure of where to vote, you can find your precinct location, your legislative district, and the name and contact information of your state and federal government representatives online here. Alternatively, you can find you polling location by calling your county clerk with your Social Security number (you can find your County Clerk’s number here).

Elections are held on dates specified in Kentucky (and/or federal) law. Primary elections are on the first Tuesday after the third Monday in May. General elections are on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Kentucky law requires that voters bring valid identification. The Kentucky Board of Elections notes the following acceptable forms of identification (see here):

  • personal acquaintance of precinct officer
  • driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • credit card
  • another form of written identification containing both picture and signature.

The polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., local time. If you are in line by 6:00 p.m. you will be permitted to vote.

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Operating the voting machine

Each county decides which voting technology it will purchase, choosing from among a list of machines certified by the State Board of Elections. Voters may ask their precinct election officials for instruction in the use of the machine on election day. In some counties, the county clerk holds demonstration events in advance of the election to familiarize voters with the machines.

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Voting absentee

Applications for mail-in absentee ballots must be requested from your county clerk in person, by mail, or by phone or fax (you can find your county clerk’s address and phone number here). The voter’s spouse, parent or child also may request the application. The deadline for making the request, except in case of a medical emergency, is seven days before the election. In case of a medical emergency you may apply for an absentee ballot up to the day of the election.

Qualifications include:

  • advanced age, disability, illness
  • member of the Armed Forces or the dependent of a member of the Armed Forces
  • military personnel confined to a military base on election day
  • temporarily residing overseas but still eligible to vote in Kentucky
  • temporarily residing out of state but still eligible to vote in Kentucky
  • a student attending school outside your county of residence
  • incarcerated in jail and charged but not convicted of a felony
  • working outside the county and unable to vote early in the county clerk’s office or in your polling place on election day.

Under certain conditions, registered voters may be permitted to vote absentee on a voting machine at the county clerk’s office during the last 12 working days (or more in some counties) prior to an election.

Qualifications include:

  • out of the county on election day
  • a pregnant woman in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • a member or employee of the county or state boards of elections, a deputy county clerk, an alternate precinct officer or an officer appointed to a precinct other than where he or she is registered
  • a member of the Armed Forces confined to base within the county on election day and you learn of that confinement within seven days or less of the election
  • a student attending school outside the county of your voter registration who will be out of the county on election day
  • a person or spouse of a person who is scheduled for surgery that will require hospitalization on election day.

In case of a medical emergency, you or your spouse may request a medical emergency absentee ballot within 14 days or less of an election.

The completed application for a mail-in absentee ballot must be received by the county clerk by mail or in person at least 7 days before the deadline. The absentee ballot itself must be received by 6:00 p.m. local time on election day and must be sent by mail. Note that Election Day is often a federal holiday with no mail delivery.

Addition details of interest to military and overseas citizens may be found on the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website at here.

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