FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A record number of Kentuckians are eligible to vote in the November General Election, according to figures released by the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday.
The final report of registered voters shows 3,402,925, a net increase of nearly 35,000 voters since the May 22 primary.
Of them, Democrats have a plurality of the electorate with 1.68 million registered voters, or 49.6 percent of voters. Republicans total about 1.41 million, around 41.7 percent of voters, and more than 295,400 voters, about 8.68 percent, are registered with another party or as "other."
This is the first time in nearly 70 years that the Democrats do not make up at least 50 percent of registered voters.
Each of Kentucky's six Congressional Districts have been trying to register voters since the primary. The 6th Congressional District, where a hotly contested race for the U.S. Representative is underway between incumbent Republican Andy Barr and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, saw a net gain of more than 9,100 voters, more than a quarter of the statewide increase.
The Republican Party and other affiliations gained voters in all the districts, while the Democratic Party gained voters in the 3rd, 4th, and 6th Districts.
“This midterm election year in Kentucky is important,” said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief election official. “On the ballot, Kentuckians will have the opportunity to choose candidates for local offices all the way up to Congress. I join all our election officials, the State Board of Elections, county boards of elections, and our 15,000 precinct election officers; in calling on Kentuckians to go to the polls on Nov. 6."
It remains to be seen what those numbers will mean when it comes to voters actually participating on Election Day.
Dr. M. Stephen Voss, political science Pprofessor at the University of Kentucky, says the old adage that a higher turnout helps Democrats more is not true anymore, although some of the energy on both sides is based on what has happened in Washington, especially surrounding President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While Democrats opposed to President Trump were already angered or enthused, the Kavanaugh hearings have awakened some of those conservatives who were upset with the way the process played out and didn’t like what they saw with the Democratic Senators from outside the state,” he said. “GOP activists have told me their job has gotten easier, in terms of mobilizing their own base.”
Despite the gap continuing to narrow between registered Democrats and Republicans in Kentucky, Marisa McNee, deputy executive director of the Kentucky Democratic Party, predicts “This will be a good year for Democrats, and I predict an enthusiastic turnout.”
For the May primary, Democrats had 50.02 percent of the registered voters, Republicans 41.39 percent and others, 5.51 percent.
Grimes has said she will issue her voter turnout prediction a few days before the election.