Frankfort, Ky. – Hoping to power a surge in civic engagement in the areas they serve, Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives announced their Co-ops Vote campaign on Wednesday, April 27.
Voter participation in rural areas trails the national average. In the 2012 national elections, voter turnout dropped overall, but the decline in rural counties was 18 percent—twice that of the nation as a whole.
At a state capitol event, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes endorsed the non-partisan effort, joining electric co-op leaders and Frankfort Youth Tour high school students who represent all of Kentucky’s 26 member-owned electric cooperatives.
“We appreciate Secretary Grimes lending her voice and commitment to civic engagement to the Co-ops Vote campaign,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of KAEC. “We hope Co-ops Vote furthers her considerable efforts to protect the right to vote, improve ballot access and encourage Kentuckians to show up on Election Day.”
“As a Commonwealth, we have work to do to increase voter turnout in all of our elections – especially in rural Kentucky where turnout is below the state average in almost every cycle,” said Grimes. “I appreciate our electric cooperatives working hard to urge citizens in rural areas to vote in this important election year. I am excited to be a partner in their efforts as we continue to work to get more Kentuckians to the polls.”
The Kentucky effort is part of a nationwide initiative by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Co-ops Vote will educate and engage voters, supplying information on voter registration, candidates and electric co-op priorities, such as ensuring continued access to reliable electricity, promoting co-ops’ development of innovative renewable energy solutions, and expanding broadband coverage throughout rural America.
Kentucky’s statewide voter turnout in the 2015 general election was 30.6 percent. Sixty-six of Kentucky’s 120 counties failed to reach 30 percent voter turnout, mostly in rural areas. In fact, three rural Kentucky counties failed to reach even 20 percent voter turnout.
Grimes recently launched GoVoteKY.com, an online portal which includes online voter registration and voter resources, including sample ballots. More than 22,000 Kentuckians used the new portal to register to vote or update their registration before the April 18 deadline.
The Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) is committed to improving the quality of life for member electric cooperatives that in turn provide Kentuckians a high level of electrical service at the lowest possible price through a local, consumer-owned form of business. Kentucky electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people (about 35 percent of the state’s population) in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.