A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: Exercise your right to vote; there are important choices to be made Tuesday


By Paul Whalen
Special to KyForward

There is an expression “use it or lose it”. This usually applies to skills and athletics. However, it could apply to voting.

When businesses see decline in the use of a product or service they often discontinue that product or service. In the United States and in Kentucky, we have a decline of those who are exercising their rights as citizens even though this right of voting has been expanded throughout the years.

Due to the “cost” of the right to vote, there has not been a discussion of ending it. Though, based upon turnout statistics, voter participation over the past 50 years the decline of Americans voting could be imminent.

In 2016, Kentucky Republicans eliminated the Republican Primary for President by moving to a caucus system.

Due to the decline in voter participation, Republicans and Democrats could nominate their candidates for all offices using state and county conventions. Thus, the expense would be placed on the political parties and not the taxpayers.

Since 1774, over a million Americans have given their lives and more than that number have contributed time, blood, sweat and tears to enable Americans over the age of 18 to participate in the operation of their local, state and national governments. Unfortunately, the majority of voting age Americans are willing to waive their rights to vote by failing to show up to vote.

In 2014, Primary Election voter turnout in Kentucky was 27 percent statewide. In 2015, it was 12 percent. Over 72 percent of the eligible voters did not bother to show up to vote in 2014 and over 80 percent did not bother to show up in May 2015. In the 2015 November General Election, only 30.6 percent of all eligible Kentucky voters bothered to show up to vote.

In August 1920, the 19th Amendment giving Women the right to vote was enacted. In the November 2015, only 29.9 percent of eligible Kentucky women voted.

In July 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18; though Kentuckians had been allowed to vote at age 18 since the 1950s. In the 2015 November General Election, only 11.5 percent of the eligible voters age 24 and younger bothered to vote. In the age group 25 thru 34 only 16 percent of those eligible voted.

Rather than eliminate Primary Elections, I urge all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote.

On Tuesday May 17, I urge all eligible Democrats and Republicans to vote in their respective Primary Elections in order to protect America’s right to vote. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. If you are going to be out of town, go to your County Clerk’s Office and cast an absentee ballot.

Kentucky Democrats have a 6-person primary to determine who will run for the U.S. Senate in November. Democrats also have the opportunity to vote for their choice as nominee for President.

Kentucky Republicans have the opportunity to determine who their candidate will be for the U.S. Senate.

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Paul Whalen is an attorney who lives in Campbell County


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