En español | Kentucky’s May 17 primaries will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the state’s General Assembly and several state high courts.
What's new this year:
A new redistricting plan has changed certain boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect which candidates appear on your ballot.
- Absentee voting: This option is available, but only to registered voters who meet certain criteria, including residents temporarily living out of state or voters who are unable to vote in person because of an illness or disability.
- Early in-person voting: All registered voters can vote early and in person on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the primary and general election days.
- In-person voting on Election Day: The state’s primary election is Tuesday, May 17; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. On both dates, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.
How do I register to vote?
- Online: Via the state’s online voter registration portal.
- By mail: Print out a copy of the registration application and submit it to your county clerk’s office (the quicker option) or the State Board of Elections, which will then forward your application to your county clerk’s office. Postage is required.
- In person: Visit your county clerk’s office. Or you can register when applying for or renewing your driver’s license or when visiting one of Kentucky’s social service agencies, such as agencies serving those with disabilities or the Department for Community Based Services.
The registration deadline is 4 p.m. local time on Monday, April 18, for the primary and 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Oct. 11, for the general election. If you are mailing your registration application, it must be postmarked by these respective dates.
To check your current registration status, sign in to the state’s voter information center.
Does my party affiliation matter when I vote?
It does during the primary election. When you register to vote, you can select one of three party affiliations: Democratic, Republican or other. When voting in a partisan primary, those affiliated with a political party can only vote using their party’s ballot. Anyone registered as “other” can cast votes only in nonpartisan races — such as those for judicial seats or nonpartisan city offices — during the primary election. In the general election, you can vote for any candidate of your choice, regardless of party affiliation.
The deadline to change your party affiliation so you can vote in a party’s primary is Dec. 31. To change your party affiliation, update your voter registration through the State Board of Elections website at govote.ky.gov or fill out a new voter registration card and file it with your county clerk’s office by mail or in person.
How can I get a mail-in or absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?
Only Kentucky voters who meet certain criteria can request a mail-in absentee ballot, including voters who are temporarily out of state or unable to vote in person due to work, age, disability or illness, or because they’re serving as election workers. This also applies to students temporarily living outside their county of residence. You can get a request form:
- Online: Via the state’s voter information portal, starting 45 days before the primary and the general election, so April 2 for the primary and Sept. 24 for the general.
- By phone: Call your county clerk’s office.
- In person: Visit your county clerk’s office.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 14 days before an election, which would mean May 3 for the primary and Oct. 25 for the general. But if you’re in the military or living overseas, the deadline is seven days prior to an election, which would mean May 10 for the primary and Nov. 1 for the general.
Mail your completed ballot to your county clerk’s office, postage is required, or drop it in a secure drop box. Drop box locations are included in the polling locations for your county. Completed absentee ballots must be received by your county clerk by 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 17, for the primary and by 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 8, for the general election.
Can I track my absentee ballot?
Yes, the status of your absentee ballot can be tracked through the voter information portal at govote.ky.gov.
Can I vote early in person if I qualified for a mail-in absentee ballot?
Yes, you can if you would prefer to vote in person and not mail or drop off a completed ballot. Excused in-person absentee voting, as it’s called, is available Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, May 4, 5 and 6, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, May 9, 10 and 11, for the primaries, and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 27 and 28, and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and 2, for the general election. This voting typically takes place at your county clerk’s office, but you should contact your clerk’s office to verify this information.
Can I vote early in person if I didn't qualify for an absentee ballot?
Yes, early voting, also referred to as in-person no-excuse absentee voting, will be available to all registered voters on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before each election, so May 12, 13 and 14 for the primaries and Nov. 3, 4 and 5 for the general election. The State Board of Elections website lists polling location information for each county, including in-person no-excuse absentee locations and hours. Or contact your county clerk’s office to see when and where you can cast your ballot before Election Day.
When is Election Day? When are polls open?
The state’s primary election is Tuesday, May 17; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. If you’re in line by 6 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote. Find your polling location on the State Board of Elections website. Or contact your county clerk’s office for polling site details.
Do I need identification to vote?
A photo ID, including the name of the voter, is required. Acceptable forms of identification include your driver’s license, passport or other photo IDs issued by:
- The United States or the Commonwealth of Kentucky
- The U.S. Department of Defense, a branch of the uniformed services, the Merchant Marine or the Kentucky National Guard
- A public or private college, university or postgraduate technical or profession school located in the U.S.
- Any city, county, urban county, charter county or consolidated local government in the state
What races are on the ballot in 2022?
- U.S. Senate: 1 seat, currently held by Sen. Rand Paul
- U.S. House: all 6 seats
- State Senate: 19 out of 38 seats
- State House: all 100 seats
- State Supreme Court: 4 seats (Districts 1, 2, 4, 6)
- State intermediate appellate court: 14 seats
- Ballot measures: up to 4 constitutional amendments
- Mayors and city councils: local municipalities, including Louisville and Lexington
For details and sample ballots, reach out to your county clerk’s office.
Editor’s note: This guide was updated on May 12, 2022, with new details about deadlines and postage requirements. The guide was first published on Aug. 18, 2020.