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OUR VIEW: Voter turnout promising, but still needs to be improved

Last week, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes predicted barely more than a third of registered voters would hit the polls Tuesday.

Grimes predicted about 31 percent voter turnout for the 2019 general election, which included various state elections, none more widely followed and publicized than the gubernatorial race between incumbent Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear.

And, while 31 percent would have been an improvement on voter turnout from some recent elections, Kentuckians, Clark Countians included, decided to show up to the polls Tuesday.

That’s a good sign.

According to preliminary results, voter turnout in Kentucky was actually more like 40 percent.

In Clark County, turnout was almost 44 percent. Of the 29,742 registered voters in the county, 13,022 cast ballots Tuesday. That’s up from about 31 percent the last time a governor’s race was on the ballot in 2015.

While we can certainly celebrate this higher-than-normal turnout, there’s still much work that needs to be done to encourage participation in the election process in our state and country.

Yes, 44 percent is a welcome improvement, but that means less than half of those who are registered decided the results for our county.

That number does not take into account the even higher number of people who are eligible to vote but are not even registered.

The issues with low voter turnout are plenty and complicated. And we won’t pretend to have an answer to encouraging more people to vote.

But we do want to play a part in encouraging our neighbors to be more active in the election process.

These people are being elected to make important decisions about policy, spending and transparency in our state. They play a major role in our quality of life, attracting new businesses and more.

There were several races won Tuesday night on a rather minimal difference.

Kentucky’s gubernatorial race was decided by less than 10,000 votes. So you can’t tell us the votes of those 16,000 Clark Countians and the thousands upon thousands across the state who didn’t vote don’t matter.

Your vote matters.

Voting is not only a right in our country, it’s a privilege. Many others around the world do not share this freedom, and yet, thousands in America take it for granted. It’s sad – there’s no other way to put it.

While we are excited for the progress seen this election, we are hopeful that momentum will keep up and we will see even higher turnout in the next election.

If you want to register to vote, check your voter registration information, find your polling place or more, visit govoteky.org.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. The board is comprised of publisher Michael Caldwell and Bluegrass Newsmedia editors Whitney Leggett and Ben Kleppinger. To inquire about a meeting with the board, contact Caldwell at 759-0095.