Register to vote this month and then get to the polls

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Alison Lundergan Grimes

Election Day is approaching rapidly.

Voters across the nation will elect the next president of the United States. Here in Kentucky, we also will choose a U.S. senator, six members of Congress, all of the state House, half of the state Senate and a multitude of local officials and judges.

The outcomes of these elections will impact our country, commonwealth and communities for many years to come.

Yet, if the recent past is a guide, many Kentuckians will not vote. During last year’s contest for governor, most eligible Kentuckians did not vote. As the state’s chief election officer, that is the most distressing statistic I confront.

Low voter participation weakens our democracy. Citizens who vote make themselves better informed than non-voters about the issues that affect their lives, their families and their jobs. They have a greater stake in making certain that government works well for them — and for all of us. They are likelier to hold public officials accountable for their performances and for their integrity.

And, yes, my sadness over weak voter turnout is magnified by the truth that so many brave Americans have given their lives on countless battlefields to protect our cherished right to pick our leaders in free elections.

September is National Voter Registration Month, and I urge my fellow Kentuckians to register to vote and to follow up by actually voting. We have made it easier than ever to take the first step by implementing online voter registration.

At GoVoteKY.com, you can quickly and easily register or update your voter registration within a matter of a few minutes.

In less than six months, more than 11,000 new voters have registered online, and more than 26,000 Kentucky voters have updated their registrations.

My office will continue traveling to communities across Kentucky on our GoVoteKY.com Tour this month as part of our hugely successful voter-registration drive that began in the spring. It’s the largest and longest voter-registration effort ever undertaken in the commonwealth.

While online voter registration is one of our proudest accomplishments, it is not our only one.

We were the driving force behind the enactment of Kentucky’s first-ever Military Heroes Voting Initiative. This allows those serving in the military or living overseas to register to vote, update their registrations and receive absentee ballots via an online portal.

We created a program that allows victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to register and to vote without fear that their whereabouts will be available to their abusers, and we have secured funding for this program.

We’ve protected absentee voters from attempts to improperly and perhaps illegally influence their votes by keeping their identities and addresses confidential until after elections.

We created an Election Integrity Task Force of federal, state and local officials to monitor our elections and ensure their integrity.

That’s not even a complete list, and we are still pushing to do even more.

I will continue to advocate for allowing Kentuckians to vote early and in person with no-excuse absentee voting. I will press ahead with efforts to persuade the General Assembly to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences.

So today, take that first step and check your registration or register to vote at GoVoteKY.com. Then, on Nov. 8, let’s all celebrate our liberty and exercise our freedom by voting.

Alison Lundergan Grimes is Kentucky’s secretary of state.