Kentucky’s recent closely contested gubernatorial election has raised questions about our electoral process. Since voting is fundamental to democracy — as is citizens’ confidence in the election results — it’s important to take a hard look at our current system.
The League of Women Voters of Kentucky is proud of voters for turning out in record numbers in this fall’s election. Just over 42% of Kentuckians voted, a substantial increase from the 30.7% in 2015. Despite unsubstantiated allegations of voting fraud, our hardworking and professional election officials made sure all eligible votes were counted and secure.
Voting fraud isn’t a problem in Kentucky. Rather, lack of participation in elections is a major concern. While a voter turnout of 42% was better than 30.7%, a majority of Kentuckians didn’t participate in the 2019 hotly contested gubernatorial election. Increasing eligible voter participation and confidence in the election results are critical to strengthening our system. Democracy only works when citizens are active and informed participants in the democratic process.
To this end, the League of Women Voters supports six pillars of reform in Kentucky, all of which can be accomplished while ensuring that elections are secure. They are:
- Prevent barriers to citizens voting by providing longer hours, early voting opportunities and convenient countywide voting locations
- Adopt automatic voter registration
- Explore structural changes such as vote-by-mail, open primaries, and rank choice voting
- Provide automatic re-enfranchisement of ex-felons once they’ve served their sentences
- Enact redistricting reform with a process that is fair and transparent so voters elect their representatives rather than politicians choosing their voters through gerrymandering
- Amend the Kentucky constitution to allow a recount in close gubernatorial elections.