General election early voting starts this week

Welcome to the Monday, September 19, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. General election early voting starts this week
  2. A look at Oregon’s open gubernatorial election
  3. Abortion at play in state supreme court and a ballot measure election in Kentucky this year

General election early voting starts this week

It might feel like the primary season just ended (because it did!) but, starting this week, voters across the country will start casting ballots in this year’s general elections.

Early voting kicks off on Sept. 23 for voters in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. On Sept. 24, it begins in Vermont and Virginia. 

On Sept. 29, voters in Illinois, Michigan, and North Dakota can head to the polls. Pennsylvania voters might also have the ability to vote early this month depending on their county. The exact start date varies based on when counties finalize their November ballots.

Another 35 states begin early voting in October, and two—Kentucky and Oklahoma—begin early voting in November.

Five states—Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, and New Hampshire—do not offer universal, in-person early voting but voters meeting certain eligibility requirements may qualify to vote early.

The average duration of early-voting periods is roughly 20 days, down from 21 during the 2020 election cycle, but can range from as long as 45 days (in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) to two days (in Kentucky). 

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A look at Oregon’s open gubernatorial election

Between now and Election Day we will be previewing some of the top races we are watching here in the Brew. We are kicking things off today with a look at Oregon’s gubernatorial election.

Five candidates are running for the office. Gov. Kate Brown (D) is term-limited, making her one of eight governors not running for re-election this year.

Tina Kotek (D), Christine Drazan (R), and Betsy Johnson (I)  have received the most media coverage.

All three candidates previously served in the Legislature, Kotek as House Speaker, Drazan as House Minority Leader, and Johnson as a Democratic member of the Senate.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik described the contest as a three-way race, saying it “sets up an unusual situation where the winner may not need to crack even 40%” since only a plurality of votes is needed to win.

In the past three gubernatorial elections, the Democratic candidate has won by an average margin of six percentage points.

Two election forecasters currently rate the race as Lean or Tilt Democratic and one rates it as a Toss-up.

Oregon has had a Democratic governor since 1987, the second-longest streak in the country behind only Washington. The state has only elected one independent governor, Julius Meier, who served from 1931 to 1935.

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Abortion at play in state supreme court and a ballot measure election in Kentucky this year

Today is the 15th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series and we are featuring Kentucky, the Bluegrass State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho   

On the ballot in Kentucky

At the federal level, Kentuckians will elect one U.S. Senator and six U.S. Representatives.

Kentucky is not holding state executive official elections this year. Those offices will be on the ballot in 2023.

At the state legislative level, all 100 seats in the state House along with 19 of the state’s 38 Senate seats 

are on the ballot.

Four of the seven seats on the Kentucky Supreme Court and 14 seats on the Kentucky Court of Appeals are up for election. All of these races are contested, nonpartisan elections.

We are also covering local elections in Lexington and Louisville, which include offices like the mayor, county attorney, and local judges. Fayette and Jefferson County Public Schools also have seats on the ballot.

Click here for more information on Kentucky’s races this year.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Kentucky remained the same at six following the 2020 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here’s an example of what Kentucky’s congressional map looks like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our congressional and state legislative map comparison tools by visiting our Kentucky redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators—Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul—are Republicans, with Paul on the ballot this year.
  • Kentucky has one Democratic U.S. Representative and five Republicans.
  • Kentucky has had a Democratic governor since 2019.
  • Republicans hold a 30-8 majority in the state Senate and a 75-25 majority in the state House.
  • With a Democratic governor and Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, Kentucky is one of 13 states without a state government trifecta, a status it has held since 1995.
  • While Democrats hold the governorship, Kentucky’s attorney general and secretary of state are Republicans, making it one of nine states without a state government triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 63 state legislative seats in Kentucky, or 53% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either major party runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.

Democrats are running for 68 of the seats up for election. Fifty-one seats (43%) do not feature a Democratic candidate and Republicans are likely to win.

Republicans are running for 107 seats. Twelve seats (10%) do not feature a Republican candidate and Democrats are likely to win.

Key races

  • Kentucky Supreme Court: four seats are up for election. Justices are officially nonpartisan, but our 2020 state court partisanship study found that two of the justices up for elections had a confidence score of Mild Democrat, and two had scores of Indeterminate. Of the three not on the ballot, two had scores of Mild Republican and one joined the court following our analysis.
    • In one race, in particular, Justice Michelle Keller, with a Mild Democrat score, faces Joseph Fischer, a Republican member of the state House. Fischer authored Kentucky’s law that restricts abortion after conception and sponsored Amendment 2 (see below).

Ballot measures

There are two measures on the ballot this year:

  • The No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment would amend the state constitution to say there is nothing in it creates a right to abortion or requiring government funding for abortion. Four states—Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, and Louisiana—passed similar language as ballot measures before the Dobbs ruling. Kansas rejected a similar amendment this year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
  • The Changes to Legislative Session End Dates and Special Sessions Amendment would remove specific legislative session end dates from the constitution and allow legislators to set their own end dates and call special sessions.

Between 1985 and 2020, 24 ballot measures appeared on Kentucky’s statewide ballots. Seventeen (71%) were approved, and seven (29%) were defeated.


  • Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.
  • Kentucky requires identification to vote. To read about the types of identification accepted, click here.
  • Early voting begins on Nov. 3 and ends on Nov. 5.
  • Kentucky allows absentee/mail-in voting but only if the voter meets certain requirements found here. The deadline to request a ballot is Oct. 25, which must be returned to election officials by Nov. 8.
  • The voter registration deadline is Oct. 11. Registration can be done in person, by mail, or online, with mailed forms postmarked by the deadline.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

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