High school seniors optimistic about future turnout of young voters

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY – Young people aren’t as active at the polls as their parents on Election Day in Kentucky.

Half of registered voters between 18 and 24 years old voted in the 2016 election. In 2015, 11 percent turned out to vote.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is optimistic about the young vote in 2018. “Society bets against our young people, but I bet on them. What we’ve seen is they’ve steadily, slowly but surely, increased in the course of the 2016 election. We conducted the largest voter registration drive this state has ever seen.”

Grimes hopes to continue to grow the young vote throughout Kentucky. “When we have 40 percent of our nation not participating in our election, we need to make it easier for people to be a part of the process,” she said.

As part of National Voter’s Registration Month, Grimes spoke to Marshall County High School seniors about how to register and why they should want to vote.

It took less than a minute for Grimes to show dozens, maybe hundreds, of seniors to become registered voters from their smart phones.

Senior Emily Owens, 17, was the first senior to finish. She says Wednesday was the first time she’d heard about registering to vote, so she’d never really thought about going to govoteky.com prior to her 18th birthday in November.

If you will be 18 by the next general election, you are eligible to register at 17.

Jackson Beal had already preregistered because, he said, “I want my voice heard in the government. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about anything.”

He said he thinks getting some of his peers on board could be an uphill battle. “It’s not a priority. They don’t feel like it matters, because we can’t see it affected us directly,” he said.

It is a priority to Owens. She said she thinks the theory that young people aren’t aware of what’s going on because oftentimes you find them looking down at their phones is false. She thinks their screen time is an asset. “When you get on Facebook and stuff, all you see is politics and what’s going on in the world,” she said.

Grimes also spoke to us about President Donald Trump’s election commission. She reiterated that she thinks it’s a sham, and she stands by her decision to not release personal information of Kentucky voters. She says education will be key to debunking the theory about millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election. “There’s not massive voter fraud that would sway an election, especially a presidential election,” she said.

Grimes says the next statewide election is about 250 days away, and it’s for county races.

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