What does this month's election mean for the future of Kentucky's Democracy?

The Kentucky General Election three weeks ago marked the ending of six statewide races for public office.  Most people only paid much attention to the Governor's race, but many KFTC members were at least as interested in the Secretary of State's race

Secretary of State candidate Bill Johnson made his campaign about the issues - more-so than any other candidate running this year.

He was polling just a few points behind Alison Lundergan Grimes when he sharpened his campaign rhetoric around three primary policy planks:
- Preventing Kentuckians without homes from being able to vote.
- Instituting a mandatory photo ID requirement for voting, despite the fact that 10% or so of the voting population have no such IDs.
- Keeping former felons from being able to vote.


Kentuckians For The Commonwealth has spent the last 7 years building a campaign around voting rights and a lot of our members increasingly began to speak out against Johnson's plans.


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Seeing this threat to our Democracy, the New Power PAC launched a campaign in the weeks leading up to the election that brought out the powerful stories of people Bill Johnson wanted to keep the right to vote from - people who were previously strangely absent from the dialogue.  With a strong web, mail, ground, and print media campaign, we were able to reach broadly and deeply across the state to connect with people on these vital issues and to let them know where Johnson stands.

On the night of the election, Johnson lost by 22 points, 17 points worse than polling weeks before suggested.


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There are a lot of reasons for this massive shift and some of them have to do with Grimes' fundraising and skill as a candidate, but the influence of the New Power PAC was another factor.  The most important factor, though, seems to be that people just plain don't like the idea of taking the right to vote from homeless people or otherwise restricting access to voting.

These election results are a large public mandate against the photo ID voting legislation contemplated for next year's General Assembly and is also an indication of how Kentucky voters feel about proposed legislation to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society (House Bill 70).  It confirms earlier polling data from the UK Survey Research Center that suggests that Kentuckians strongly favor voting rights for former felons.


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In short, Kentuckians seem to like to vote in favor of voting... and not against it. 

State legislators would do well to consider these facts when House Bill 70 again comes up for a vote in early 2012.

If there are three people in the state who have been the most active campaigners against broad voting rights in 2011, those people have been Bill Johnson, David Williams, and Damon Thayer.

The first two were dealt crushing defeats on election night by margins of greater than 20%.  The third is up for election next year. 


Starting on January 3rd, KFTC members will be in Frankfort talking to legislators and making the case for restoration of voting rights for former felons who have served their debt to society and will fight against proposed legislation to make our Democracy smaller.  Please plan on coming out to join us in the coming year. 

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