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Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell are reacting to Georgia's voting reform issues. (Kentucky Today file photo)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Prominent Kentucky Republicans are firing back at a comment on social media last month by the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party that attacked recent voting reforms enacted by the Georgia legislature.

On March 26, Colmon Elridge, the first Black Chair of the KDP, responded to a tweet by his Georgia counterpart, Nikema Williams, who called the Georgia legislation, “the most flagrantly racist, partisan power grab in modern Georgia history.”

Williams said, “We will fight tooth-and-nail in court to put this legislation in the ash heap of history along with the rest of Jim Crow.”

In his Twitter reply, Elridge said he was, “Standing with our sisters and brothers in GA against this racist and undemocratic bill.  We know the GOP, aided with their counsel AG (Daniel) Cameron, will try their hand at this, so we must be organized, ready to fight, and as vigilant to protect democracy as they are reckless to destroy it.”

On Friday, Secretary of State Michael Adams issued a statement in which he called on the Kentucky Democratic Party, “To apologize for the failure of Democratic governors and legislators to enact reforms to expand voter access in the prior century in which they held nearly uninterrupted power.”

Adams added, “Kentucky Democrats did nothing in the century they controlled our government to allow even one day of early voting in our state.  Now the Kentucky Democratic Party has the gall to attack Georgia – another state where it was Republicans, not Democrats, who expanded voter access. The Democratic establishment should drop the hypocrisy, and thank the legislators of both parties who have joined me in bringing Kentucky voting into the 21st century.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, joined the fray on Monday, in which he issued a statement in which he said: “We are witnessing a coordinated campaign by powerful and wealthy people to mislead and bully the American people.

“The President has claimed repeatedly that state-level debates over voting procedures are worse than Jim Crow or ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ Nobody actually believes this. Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation. But there’s an old cynical saying that ‘history is just the set of lies agreed upon.’ And a host of powerful people and institutions apparently think they stand to benefit from parroting this big lie.

“The Washington Post has repeatedly debunked White House lies about legislation in Georgia: ‘In reality, Election Day hours were not changed and the opportunities to cast a ballot in early voting were expanded.’ Plenty of Democrat-run states allow fewer days of early voting than the new Georgia law requires. More than 70% of Americans, including a majority of Democrats and a supermajority of independents, favor commonsense voter I.D. requirements; even so, Georgia will accept alternatives to driver’s licenses to verify absentee voters. All the facts disprove the big lie.”

The Georgia legislation led Major League Baseball to remove the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta, where it was to have been played.  Several Georgia-based corporations, including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have also expressed displeasure with the bill.

In March, the Kentucky General Assembly approved a measure advocated by Adams, that gives voters three days of no-excuse in-person voting ahead of the election, the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday immediately before an election; establishes voting centers in each county, where a resident can cast their ballot, no matter which precinct they reside in; and keeps the online portal where voters can request an absentee ballot.  It also allows for an easier purge of inactive voters from the rolls.

A number of the bill’s provisions, while there were changes, are based on ones that were first used in 2020, after an executive order was issued by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, in cooperation with Adams. 

This led to a record voter turnout in November, after which Adams said, “I’m proud of the millions of Kentuckians who defied a pandemic to participate in a historic election, and I’m grateful to the bipartisan coalition who worked with me – the Governor, the State Board of Elections, our tireless county clerks, and our heroic poll workers – over many months to make Kentucky’s election again a national model.”  

Kentucky’s election reform bill is now on the governor’s desk, where he can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.

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