Many Kentuckians do not make effort to vote

Published 10:09 am Thursday, October 6, 2016


Kentucky Secretary of State

Election Day is approaching rapidly.

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Voters across the nation will elect the next president of the United States.  Here in Kentucky, we also will choose a U.S. senator, six members of Congress, all of the state House of Representatives, half of the state Senate, and a multitude of local officials and judges.

The outcomes of these elections will impact our country, commonwealth and communities for many years to come.

Yet, if the recent past is a guide, many Kentuckians will not vote.  During last year’s contest for governor, most eligible Kentuckians did not vote.

As the state’s chief election officer, I find that to be the most distressing statistic I confront.

Low voter participation weakens our democracy.

Citizens who vote make themselves better informed than non-voters about the issues that affect their lives, their families and their jobs.  They have a greater stake in making certain that government works well for them — and for all of us. They are likelier to hold public officials accountable for their performance and for their integrity.

And, yes, my sadness over weak voter turnout is magnified by the truth that so many brave Americans have given their lives on countless battlefields to protect our cherished right to pick our leaders in free elections.

With just a few days before Oct. 11 registration deadline, I urge my fellow Kentuckians to register to vote and to follow up by actually voting in this election for the candidates you feel are best qualified to lead.

We have made it easier than ever before to take the first step in having your voice heard in elections by implementing online voter registration. 

At, you can quickly and easily register or update your current voter registration within a matter of a few minutes. 

In six months, the results are overwhelmingly positive. More than 20,000 new voters have registered online, and more than 60,000 Kentucky voters have updated their registrations.

I have been traveling to communities across Kentucky on our Tour this fall as part of our hugely successful voter registration drive that began in the spring. It’s the largest and longest voter registration effort ever undertaken in the Commonwealth.

While online voter registration is one of our proudest accomplishments, it is by no means our only one.

We were the driving force behind the enactment of Kentucky’s first-ever Military Heroes Voting Initiative.  This allows Kentuckians serving in the military or living overseas to register to vote, update their registrations, and request and receive absentee ballots via an online portal.

We created an address confidentiality program that allows victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to register and to vote without fear that their whereabouts will be available to their abusers, and we have secured funding for this program.

We’ve protected absentee voters from attempts to improperly and perhaps illegally influence their votes by keeping their identities and addresses confidential until after elections.

We created an Election Integrity Task Force of federal, state and local officials to monitor our elections and ensure their integrity.

That’s not even a complete list, and we are still pushing hard to do even more.

I will continue to use every opportunity to advocate for allowing Kentuckians to vote early and in person with no-excuse absentee voting.  I will press ahead with efforts to persuade the General Assembly to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have completed their sentences.  

We have worked successfully to make voting easier, breaking down barriers to the ballot box because voting is one of our most precious rights as Americans.

So today, take that first step and check your registration or register to vote at Then, on November 8, let’s all celebrate our liberty and exercise our freedom by voting.