Here’s why Kentucky Republicans just expanded voting rights

While Republicans in red states across the country are pushing voter suppression bills following Donald Trump's decisive loss in the 2020 presidential election, the Bluegrass State is moving in the opposite direction.

"Kentucky on Wednesday became the only state in the country with a Republican-controlled legislature to expand voting rights after a bitter presidential election that tested the country's democratic institutions and elevated ballot access as an animating issue for both parties," The New York Times reported Wednesday. "In a signing ceremony on Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, hailed the bill as a bipartisan effort that cut against the push in other Republican legislatures to put up barriers to voting."

While the reforms are modest, they do move in the direction of expanding voting access.

"The law in Kentucky establishes three days of early voting in the state; introduces voting centers that would allow for more in-person balloting options; creates an online portal to register and request ballots; and allows voters to fix problems with absentee ballots, a process known as curing," the newspaper reported.

The report cited two major reasons why Kentucky was moving in the opposite direction of other red states.

"The reasons that Kentucky Republicans have diverged on voting rights range from the political to the logistical. For one, they had an easier sell: With sweeping new rules allowing the election to be held safely during the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans in Kentucky had one of their best cycles in years, with both Senator Mitch McConnell and Mr. Trump easily winning in the state. And expanding voting access in Kentucky was a low bar to clear; the state had some of the tightest voting laws in the country before 2020, with not a single day of early voting, and strict limits on absentee balloting," the newspaper reported.

Read the full report.