FRANKFORT,Ky — With the Primary Election right around the corner, groups like Kentucky Electric Cooperatives are doing all they can to get more people out to the polls.
Through its nonpartisan Co-ops Vote campaign, teens from across the state can learn more about the government and election process.
The goal of this is to improve voter turnout in the state’s rural counties, where some have seen turnout rates around 10% below the statewide average.
“We have rural counties in our state that have turnout that’s below 30%, even in a general election,” Secretary of State Michael Adams, R-Ky., said. “So even when statewide we’re at 42%, as bad as that is and disappointing as it is, 30 — that’s just really embarrassing. We have got to do better.”
On Wednesday, around 100 teenagers who are part of Co-ops Vote visited the state Capitol in Frankfort. The group heard from state leaders, including Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester and Adams.
Adams explains why programs like this are so important.
“The number one reason, in my 30 years of politics, people have told me they don’t vote is not voter suppression or what have you. It’s because they don’t know enough about the candidates,” Adams said. “That’s why you have high turnout in a presidential year. People know who’s running for president, but they don’t necessarily know who’s running for other offices.”
One student who plans on taking what he’s learned at the Capitol back home is 16-year-old Shelby Burris from Hardin County.
“I feel like I am definitely more versed in my political vocabulary and I think that I can make a difference as well,” Burris said.
Teens who will turn 18 before this year’s general election in November can register and vote in the upcoming May primary, so long as they turn 18 before Nov. 7.