No easy fix; Improving Kentucky's voter turnout may be easier said than done

Published: Jul. 11, 2018 at 5:23 PM EDT
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In Kentucky's 2015 gubernatorial election only 12 percent showed up to the polls. Now, officials and others around the state are wondering how to get more people in the bluegrass to take part.

"I really can't say why they're not voting," said Dean Johnson Laurel County's Clerk of 32 years.

Johnson says he has voted in every election since he earned his right to vote. Saying he does so because his generation was the first to be able to vote at 18.

"I've voted in every election I have been qualified for because I was part of the first generation that was allowed to vote at 18," said Johnson.

Johnson says over time it has been inconsistent in how Laurel Countians turn out to vote. He says it really has all depended on who is on the ballot.

The Center for American Progress released a report that says Kentucky could boost its voter turnout by more than 120,000 by doing a handful of things.

Included in the report are things like automatic enrollment, same day registration, and automatically restoring the rights of incarcerated individuals following being released from prison.

Johnson says bouncing ideas like this around is important, but the key may be in asking harder questions.

"I don't think there's a quick fix to getting voter turnout. We can add them to the rolls we can pre-register kids at 16 when they get their license we can register, we can add them to the rolls, but can we get them to vote, that's the question we need to be asking. Not how many can we get to the polls, but how do we get them to go vote," said Johnson.