Op-ed: UK professor urges students to register to vote


A “Vote Here” sign outside of the Maxwell Elementary Voting location. Voters came out early in the morning to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Maxwell Elementary Voting location in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Dr. Mary Arthur

There is an election in Kentucky on November 5th. Are you registered and planning to vote in the upcoming election?  Are you talking to your friends, family members and classmates about the upcoming election?

Though we live in a democracy and have the right to choose who represents us, many people who are eligible to vote relinquish that right and responsibility to a relatively small proportion of voters. Turnout in elections in the US overall, and Kentucky specifically, is quite low: approximately 60 percent of eligible voters in the 2016 general election; 48 percent of eligible voters in Kentucky in the 2018 election; and only 30 percent of registered voters in the last off-year election in Kentucky in 2015.  And, more relevant to many readers of the Kentucky Kernel, just one third of registered voters between the ages of 17 and 34 voted in the 2018 general election in Kentucky. This is alarmingly low.

Are you willing to let other people determine who represents you in government? If your answer is no, then here are some questions to consider on the eve of the 2019 election for KY’s next governor: Are you registered to vote?  Do you have a plan for voting?  Can you help to mobilize others on campus to register and vote by posting this link, talking to your friends, relatives, and classmates and making a plan to vote on November 5th?

Beyond voting, which I’ve often heard discussed as the first level of engagement in a democracy, it’s important to consider what else you are doing to make sure young people participate at the same rate as older people (who, one could argue, have much less at stake personally in the outcome of our elections).

The last day to register to vote is October 7th and, luckily, it only takes a couple minutes. Register here at the Kentucky voter information portal