Open forum targets first-time voters

By Grace Tapia

Students can celebrate the U.S. Constitution on Wednesday with free apple pie, lemonade and a discussion on the 221-year-old document.

During the fourth annual UK Constitution Day event, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Main Building, the university will host an open forum discussion titled “Your Big Chance: Young Voters and the Presidential Election.”

Participants in the public forum will include UK President Lee Todd and Paul Chellgren, a former Ashland Oil executive and benefactor of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence at UK.

Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Mayor Jim Newberry and other community leaders will also speak.

With the November election coming up, this year’s Constitution Day aims to inspire first-time voters to exercise their privilege to vote, said Buck Ryan, the event’s moderator and the director of the Citizen Kentucky Project in UK’s Scripps Howard First Amendment Center.

Constitution Day is sponsored by the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, the UK College of Law, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the President.

Some faculty will be taking their classes down to the event to participate, said Ryan, an associate professor at UK. Ryan’s Discovery Seminar Program class with its 18 first-time voters have assisted in organizing the forum.

The record turnout from young voters at the primaries shows the enthusiasm for this election, Ryan said, and expectations are higher for November.

“History will be made by the percentage of first-time voters in this presidential election,” he said.