FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 22, 2023) – After disappointing voter turnout in the 2022 election, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives again partnered with Secretary of State Michael Adams today to launch Co-ops Vote, a non-partisan effort to increase civic engagement.
In Kentucky’s 2022 General Election, 41.9 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, the lowest turnout for a mid-term election in nearly 30 years. National voter turnout was several percentage points higher at approximately 46.6 percent. In 11 Kentucky counties, the voter turnout was below 35 percent.
“With all statewide offices at stake in the 2023 off-year election, co-ops across the commonwealth are making a special effort to remind their consumer-members of the power of the ballot,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “The members of rural electric cooperatives democratically elect their co-op boards, and it’s important their voices and the concerns of Kentucky’s local communities are also heard in elections for public office.”
At the Kentucky State Capitol on Wednesday, 100 high school students representing electric cooperatives across the commonwealth on the Frankfort Youth Tour joined Sec. Adams to kick off 2023 Co-ops Vote. The non-partisan initiative began in 2016 with the goal of reversing a downward trend in rural voting.
The Co-ops Vote initiative includes several programs to connect voters with their elected officials and publicize registration and ballot deadlines through social media and Kentucky Living, the flagship publication of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives.
Since the creation of Co-ops Vote in 2016, voter turnout has outpaced the 2015 rate in each election. Turnout in the most recent election of constitutional officers in 2019 rose to 44.2 percent, an increase of more than 15 percentage points since 2011.
The 2023 ballot will again include contested elections for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner. Sec. Adams, Governor Andy Beshear and the General Assembly have worked across party lines in recent years to enact significant election reforms to improve accessibility, security and to address pandemic concerns.
”If you want the government to pay attention, you need to vote,” said Sec. Adams. “I encourage all Kentucky voters to take advantage of the recently increased ease in voting, and to be heard.”
Kentuckians can connect with elected leaders and candidates and stay informed on issues facing rural Kentucky on RuralPowerKY.com, a grassroots portal that links to Co-ops Vote resources.
“We are grateful to Sec. Adams for his partnership on Co-ops Vote,” said Joe Arnold, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives vice president. “Like our youth tour program, Co-ops Vote is non-partisan and does not endorse any candidate. This is all about civic engagement.”
In addition to helping Sec. Adams launch this year’s Co-ops Vote initiative, the civically-minded Kentucky Youth Tour students also met with Gov. Andy Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers and State Representative Samara Heavrin.