Alison Lundergan Grimes speaks to UK students about the importance of voting


Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes addresses Buck Ryan’s journalism 101 class about the importance of citizen participation in politics on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in the Cat’s Den at UK in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Adam Pennavaria | Staff

Emily Cole

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The Commonwealth will now step into the 21st century’s voting style with an online voter registration system.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes spoke with students in the UK College of Law Building Tuesday morning about the importance of voting, and the  state’s new voter registration website unveiled two weeks ago.

The state’s chief election official is on a tour of the state’s public universities, encouraging millennial students to get registered and spread the word to their peers.

“We want to make sure that we are reaching the one-third of all voting aged citizens that aren’t getting registered,” Grimes said. “You can not only register for the first time, but if you believe that you are already eligible you can go on and check that. You can also make updates to your registration, whether it be party affiliation or your address.”

In addition to reducing the workload of county clerk offices, one of the goals of the online registration system was to improve the accuracy of the voting process. 

“I think the opportunities are tremendous. We have over three million registered voters in this state, and my hope is that every one of them will go on and check their registration using this system,” Grimes said. “Many people incorrectly believe that they are registered so we want every registered voter to utilize the website. The opportunity to improve the accuracy of our voter registration rules is endless, and importantly the ability to reach out to the voters is my hope.”

While the new registration system has had some minor glitches, Grimes said, it has already helped thousands of citizens prepare to vote in the May Democratic primary. 

More than 14,000 Kentuckians have successfully used the website in its initial two weeks, with 700 registering to vote, according to Grimes.

“It has been tremendously successful, but if anyone is having issues with system we want them to reach back to us at the State Board of Elections so we can improve our system,” Grimes said.

Although some have criticized that the new online system was not introduced until after the Republican caucus, Grimes notes that the website was created without the help of any outside sources, therefore taking much time and effort. 

“We actually developed the system wholly in-house with our own programs and engineers, so we wanted to make sure it was secure and sound. When it was ready for the public we put it forth,” Grimes said.

While Grimes has made great strides towards voting accessibility by launching this new program, she said the work is far from finished in the Commonwealth.

The launching of the website makes Kentucky the 31st state in the nation to offer online voting registration, according to Grimes, who said the goal is to make the first step of the voting process — registering — much easier.

“Ultimately, we need to have early voting in person without an excuse in this state. It’s time for the members of our state Senate and especially our County Clerk’s Association to get on board and to help deliver something that the people of Kentucky want,” Grimes said.

The criticism of millennial citizens has been a hot topic of debate during the ongoing presidential campaign. Grimes said that despite stereotypes and criticisms, young voters could represent a significant portion of participants on election day. 

Grimes also added that UK students in particular could be a major factor in deciding which candidates are victorious in May.

“I think the university has a critical role to play, especially in mobilizing voters and educating students to get out and be a part of the process,” Grimes said. “It gives me hope that come our May primary we will see increased participation, especially from our university population.”

Kentuckians looking to vote in the May Democratic primary have until April 18 to register online or in person.