Witt: All registered voters should be allowed to vote
Published 10:01 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019
It seems during every primary election season there is an outcry about — to start with — how low the turnout of voters is likely to be. And then, following a voter turnout which typically proves how right the predictions of low turnout were, there is another outcry about how lousy the turnout was and what can be done to improve it.
This column has expounded more than once on the fact, in Kentucky and 13 other states, those who are not specifically registered as a member of either the Democrat or Republican party cannot vote in a primary election.
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And virtually all primaries are to select candidates from one of those two parties, not Independents, Greens, Socialists, Progressives, Whigs, Know-Nothings or Bullmoose.
So elected politicians pretend they are “concerned” about low voter turnout, at least immediately after the primaries, and then they turn their backs to the problem until it emerges again in the next voting cycle.
There have been many suggestions about how to improve voter turnout, both for state and national primary and general elections.
None of those suggestions ever seem to make it out of the state house or the Congress because, truth be told, those who have just been elected to office, either for the first time or for the 10th time, don’t really care if voter turnout increases because the number of voters who went to the polls the last time elected them, and that’s all they care about.
In fact, it is most likely true many, if not most, politicians would prefer the voter turnout remain low because it means they can concentrate on a smaller number of people in order to assume or re-assume office.
In Kentucky, it is estimated there are about 290,000 non-affiliated voters. None of them went to the polls last Tuesday because they are excluded from voting in primaries here, specifically by provisions codified in KRS 116.055.
Isn’t it interesting a specific Kentucky law actually prohibits legitimate voters from exercising their constitutional rights?
As of April 30, there were 29,533 registered voters in Clark County, a figure which included 3,023 registered voters who were not affiliated with either the Democrat or Republican parties, more than 10 percent.
The number of voters who turned out on May 21 was 6,366, 24 percent of those registered (and allowed) to vote.
From another view point, the number of voters who actually turned out on Tuesday was only twice the number of those who weren’t even allowed to vote.
If that same percentage of non-affiliated state voters had been able to vote Tuesday, they could conceivably have changed the results in some of the races.
Imagine what might have happened across the state if 24 percent of 290,000 registered voters had participated. That would have resulted in another 69,000 votes being counted in the state. And since Matt Bevin carried the Republican vote by 35,000 and Andy Beshear carried the Democrat vote by 24,000, it’s entirely conceivable those races could have had different outcomes.
It’s time for our legislators and those who are influential in government to quit crying crocodile tears and do something about allowing all legitimately registered voters the opportunity to participate in our democratic institutions, especially since the taxes of those 290,000 people are paying for primaries just as much as those of Democrats and Republicans.
Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at email@example.com.