Unique presidential election means Ky. votes carry more weight

Column by Robert Kahne

You can easily tell that it’s been a strange Presidential election year when Kentucky actually matters. Our “traditional” May primary has kept us from importance ever since the primary process really started mattering in the 1970s, but this year has really bucked all trends — Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are going to have to campaign in Kentucky this year.

Obviously, this is cause for excitement in the ranks of the College Democrats. Although we love working for the Democrats all over this state who are right on the issues in Kentucky, the reason that most of us got interested in politics is because of national issues. Finally having a say in who is chosen as the person most responsible for national policy is very exciting.

When I got a call on Sunday from the former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman saying that Chelsea Clinton was coming to campus, I wasn’t exactly sure if he was joking or not. I quickly discerned that he was serious. I want to spend at least a few sentences saying that I am very happy with how College Democrats (especially Nichole Stark and Sarah Short) and Student Government worked together to make that event happen.

Although Student Government and College Democrats have had severe disagreements this year, it’s great to see that we were able to put our disputes aside and come together to make a great event happen at UK. I’m very proud of the event, and I don’t see how it could have gone any better.

Hopefully, other campaigns will visit UK soon. I’d be all for having a high-level Barack Obama surrogate visit UK. Kentucky’s primary isn’t until the end of May, so there is still plenty of time to have someone give a speech on Obama’s behalf, explaining where he stands on the issues.

It is a sad thing, however, that new voters are unable to register to vote for the primary. Because of Kentucky’s strange voter laws, voters must be registered in the year prior to the primary election in order to vote in the primary. This means that if an individual has not registered before 2008, that individual cannot vote in the primary.

However, if you are not registered to vote, you still should: You will be able to vote in the general election, which to me is much more important. However, the voter registration deadline should be moved far forward: Indeed, in my opinion, I feel that same day registration would be a great idea for Kentucky.

Kentucky will have a somewhat meaningful primary election this year, something about which I am ecstatic. Although it is nearly inconceivable how Hillary Clinton could close the pledged delegate gap between her and Obama before the convention, the race will continue on into Kentucky, and that should excite you. If you are a registered Democrat, I encourage you to get educated about the candidates and to vote in May.

Robert Kahne is the president of UK College Democrats. E-mail [email protected]