Jason Griffith | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Jason Griffith

Political party: 
Question 1: 

What is your vision for strengthening civic participation in Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you are elected?

The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 159 in 2017 which requires high school students to pass a civics exam. However, people don’t become engaged by taking a test about government. The study of government and the active work of becoming engaged citizens are two different things. Civics has been a passive course of study for far too long.

Increasing civic engagement and voter turnout is a big challenge. As a twenty-five year public school teacher, I can tell you that people do as adults what they learn when they are children.  In order to improve civic engagement, young citizens need to be actively involved in the election process.

That is why I would suggest a new award for high school students, the Commonwealth Civics Citation which can added to transcripts of graduating seniors. To receive this honor, students would have to pass the Kentucky Civics Test and also complete eight hours of volunteer service in either registering citizens to vote or by helping on Election Day at a polling place. Students who help others engage in the democratic process will be equipped and encouraged to join in themselves.

Question 2: 

How does your background qualify you for serving in this office? Please provide examples of your advocacy to protect and promote civic engagement in Kentucky.

As I have said before, I have taught for 25 years. In that capacity I have worked to help register young adults to vote. I have also been quite active in various rallies, town hall meetings, and events where public participation was encouraged. I attended many events where the public discourse was limited or barred entirely. These events concerned protesting Right-to-Work, supporting the prevailing wage, opposing charter schools, and fighting proposed cuts to state employee pensions. On each of these issues, I have joined with activists and taken an active and vocal stance. 

In so doing, I have brought to the attention of my friends and colleagues, concerns that impact them in the legislative process. I read bills and I look for ways in which people are affected. As a result, I have become a go-to person in my area for legislative reading and how we work with people, legislators, and media to find common ground.

I would also like to add that I am the founder of a software company which deals with sensitive human information. I understand the importance of protecting data. I can explain from an IT expert perspective how to put additional measures in place to better protect our data.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages and other election reforms? Please explain.

I will fight for bilingual ballots, early voting, and for expanded voting hours. In the age of the Internet, cable television, and social media, we should not be limiting voting access to just one single day from 6am to 6pm. Our current voting operations and hours are antiquated.

I support mail-in ballots but I would first like to ensure that more people are registered to vote. I would vigorously support a change to automatic voter registration (AVR), in which users are automatically registered to vote when they get their initial or renewal driver’s license or state identification card. Each person has the option of opting out of voter registration. A big advantage to AVR is that more people are registered to vote. An even bigger advantage is that voters continue to have their information updated when they renew their license/state card. This allows more people to be certain of where they vote and it also curbs purging attempts from claims of “fake and false voters.”   

Mail in ballots would make voting easier. Transportation issues, identifying poll workers, and vote rigging would be reduced through mail-in ballots. However, I think our biggest concern is voter suppression.

Question 4: 

If you become Secretary of State, what will you do to increase voter registration and turnout?

Automatic voter registration and same-day registration would increase registration and improve voter turnout. The average 18 year old registered voter will move multiple times by the age of 30. As a result, many young adults don’t vote because they no longer live in the precinct where they registered. What’s worse? Many young adults don’t find out they can’t vote until they go to the polling place, only to be told by a poll worker they aren’t on the list.

With automatic voter registration, the polling place and eligibility is validated when he/she renews his/her license or state id. The polling place moves with the voter. This helps improve the voter turnout of 18-30 year olds, the group with the lowest historical turnout.

I would also support the option of voters to opt in to email and/or text message updates from the Secretary of State’s office. If a voter opts in, he/she will receive an email like “Tomorrow is the General Election. Polls are open from 6am to 9pm and your polling place is at (insert address). Please remember to bring your driver’s license or state card.”

Question 5: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to the tens of thousands of Kentuckians with felonies in their past who have completed their sentence? Please explain.

Absolutely. This is a top priority of mine. I strongly believe each person should have a chance at redemption. Kentucky is one of only two states that does not automatically restore rights of former felons. This suppression is immoral and wrong. I believe those convicted of non-violent crimes and who have paid their debt to society should have their right to vote automatically restored.