The Kentucky Secretary of State addressed the importance of voting during a lecture at the Otto M. Budig Theater in the University Center at Northern Kentucky University on Oct. 17.
Kentucky’s 76th Secretary of State Alison Grimes said when she was growing up that her mother would send her and her sisters to school after saying “make this the best day yet.”
“I set about trying to make a difference, I think what my mom was telling me every day when we were growing up and, she still says it today, was, ‘Allison you can’t be afraid,’ Grimes said. “Just as I’m here to tell you guys at Northern that you can’t be afraid.”
“I had to be the change that I wanted to see in the world, just as I hope each of you, each and every day you step foot in your classes you, attempt to make a difference and be what you want to see this world become.”
Grimes said she hopes that youth from not just here in Northern Kentucky, but across the nation will step up and act bringing fresh leadership.
The civic health index was developed to measure how involved Kentucky’s citizens are in engagement.
Grimes said the index does not show very promising facts.
According to the report, civic involvement has been declining. In 2006 during midterm elections, in the U.S. 73 percent of those eligible to vote were registered.
Only 47 percent showed up at the polls. In 2010 the numbers were even lower with 65 percent registered and only 45 percent voting.
“Here in Kentucky we do a little bit better than the national average, in terms of voter registration at 67 percent,” Grimes said. “In terms of voter turnout, which it depends whether you are talking about a primary or general, it depend on whether you’re talking about a presidential year or non-presidential year, but typically is around 47 percent.”
She said that what the state is not doing good in is volunteerism and memberships of clubs.
“The civic health, the engagement of Kentuckians all across the commonwealth is waning, it’s declining,” Grimes said.
She said Kentucky did exceed her expectation for voter turnout in the May primary at 14 percent. The majority of voters, were those who were over 60 years old. Only 5 percent of those 17 to 24 years old showed up for the primary in Kentucky.
Grimes said there is no reason why the younger generation has to wait until they are older to vote and they should be the ones helping the older generation to the polls, since they are younger and more mobile.
“I was at the vice presidential debate, I heard every spin that there was to be spun and their betting against you, because they see the statistics, that I just told you of those 17 to 24 and whether they show up in the primary at 5.4 percent,” Grimes said. “They think in this era where everything is digital that you are the lost generation, that you will not show up on election day.”
She said that the youth of the commonwealth are doing great things and that they are not a lost generation. She said she hopes the young generation will step up and “prove the pundits wrong.”
“I think what Kentucky needs and deserves to have, what I see are compassionate, caring, intelligent youth stepping up to the plate you have made a difference, you continue to make a difference and I believe on Nov. 6, you will,” Grimes said.
She said, the future is at stake and it is too risky for this generation not to be heard.
One student asked at the end of the lecture what Grimes thought the number one cause of political apathy within the younger generation is?
Grimes said people are tired of the negativity, the tone and the bickering; they want to see their leaders work together.
Another student asked Grimes what would she say to people who think their vote doesn’t count.
Grimes said, “Your vote does count, it is your voice and it should be heard.”
“I will definitely be telling people to vote and trying to convince other people who don’t think voting matters…because that one vote would matter,” said Holly Angel, a NKU student.
“If you want to make a difference, if you want to protect your future whatever it looks like you should go out and vote,” said Shawna Reilly, a political science professor at NKU.
Mark Neikirk, director of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement said, “It’s a democracy and it works only if you participate, if you don’t participate you sacrifice your voice.”
Neikirk helped organize the event also urged students to participate in the NKU mock election at www.ivote.nku.edu.