A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Get Out the Vote campaign and emphasis on voter education drove voter turnout to record levels

Staff report

Northern Kentuckians responded in a big way to Get Out The Vote campaigns and to having more information about candidates and races than they have had in previous elections.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Vote for NKY campaign was impactful for its informative website and visible promotion of the importance of voting for Northern Kentucky’s interests and impact in the state. It involved a wide range of community partners who promoted Vote For NKY through their businessses and networks.

The Northern Kentucky Tribune published a print edition in early October containing a Voter’s Guide to the election (with bios of all the candidates) and sent it – free – to every mailbox in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties – and urged readers to Go Vote, Kentucky.

Predictions before the election were that the voter turnout would be 31%. But NKY far exceeded that prediction — and surpassed its traditionally low turnout rate.

The Secretary of State’s office said actual turnout statewide was 42 percent. This is the highest voter turnout statewide since 1995 in a race in which Democrat Paul Patton defeated Republican Larry Forgy. Vote total for all counties — still unofficial — can be found at GoVoteKy.com.

Secretary Alison Lundergan Grimes also had a vigorous Get Out the Vote campaign in the weeks leading up to the election

Teachers groups also rallied around voter turnout and were focused in their messages around funding for public schools and civil public discourse.

Because the race between Bevin and Beshear was considered close, both political party organizations were energized and conducted vigorous campaigns across the state.

These full-blown efforts, among others, to get voters out to vote worked – and here are the results:

Boone County’s voting turnout was 38%. In 2015, the voter turnout was 25%.

Campbell County’s voting turnout was 41%. In 2015, the voter turnout was 29%.

Kenton County’s voting turnout was 37%. In 2015, the voter turnout was 25%.

“As a first-year campaign, we are pleased with the results of our Get Out the Vote campaign efforts across Northern Kentucky,” said NKY Chamber President Brent Cooper.

“Voters are realizing that if they want attention, funding and a dialogue with their leaders in Frankfort and Washington, they need to get to the polls. Not only does voting hold our elected officials accountable, it is also the pillar of our democracy. We plan to build momentum into the critical 2020 campaign by raising awareness and changing the culture of voting across our region.”

NKyTribune editor Judy Clabes lauded the Chamber’s emphasis on increasing voter turnout and improving voter education. Being informed is the key, she said.

“Our first print edition of the Northern Kentucky Tribune emphasized voting responsibility and had two pages dedicated to Election 2019,” said Clabes. “Voting is a responsibility of every citizen – and while we are happy to see the significant increase in voter turnout, it is just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish.”

In addition, the NKyTribune emphasized voter turnout in its coverage leading up to Election Day and continued to promote turnout through its social media.

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