By Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio
Just over a fourth of Kentucky’s registered voters are expected to cast ballots in next month’s election.
Secretary of State Elaine Walker predicts between 25 to 28 percent of eligible voters will show up for the general election in November.
While the statewide campaigns on the ballot are in the final stretch, there’s also a great deal of media attention focused on next year’s presidential race.
Walker says the presidential contest may be distracting voters and suggests constituents are generally pleased with Frankfort politics.
“You know, I’m not sure if the presidential race is having an impact on the local. It could but my feeling is more that people are not really angry with the state of the commonwealth,” she says.
Voters will decide several statewide contests, including the races for governor and attorney general.
In 2007, turnout was 37 percent when Democrat Steve Beshear was elected governor. The lowest voter response in recent memory was 22 percent in 1999 when Governor Paul Patton won re-election.
Walker says lower turnouts help special interest groups who have targeted messages to base voters.
“The fewer people that we have turn out to the polls on November 8. The easier that any one group is able to sway that election,” she says.
Asked about the potential for voter fraud, Walker says she believes the fight to stop illegal actions at the polls has been generally successful.
The state has adopted an aggressive anti-fraud policy that resulted in a handful of convictions this past year. And if county clerks see a spike in the number of absentee ballots requested for a particular area, the secretary of state’s office says it should send up a red flag.
“And quite frankly, if you want to guarantee that any voter fraud is not effective get the voter turnout higher,” says Walker. “If we had a 75 percent voter turnout, there is no way that you could take over an election through voter fraud, because you just couldn’t get the numbers up.”