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Commentary: Celebrate our democracy, register to vote

By Sen. Jimmy Higdon

Sen. Jimmy Hidgon, R-Lebanon

With the passing of National Voters Registration Day on Sept. 25, I wanted to remind eligible Kentuckians that the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9.

Don’t take this constitutionally protected right for granted. Many Kentuckians have served their country, and too many have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and right to vote. Yet, so many eligible Kentucky voters are not even registered.

But it is easier than ever to do. Kentuckians can begin the registration process or update their current registration by going to the GoVoteKY.com, the commonwealth’s online voter portal. County clerks in Casey, Jefferson, Marion, Nelson and Spencer counties (Hidgon’s district) will accept online and paper applications until 4 p.m. on the day of the deadline.

To be eligible to vote, Kentuckians must:

  • be a U.S. citizen;
  • be a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before Election Day;
  • be at least 18 years old on or before the general election;
  • not be a convicted felon, or if convicted of a felony offense, must have obtained a restoration of civil rights;
  • not have been adjudged mentally incompetent;
  • and not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.

Kentuckians who cannot get to the polls on Election Day have the option of voting absentee before the election, thanks to our dedicated county clerks who facilitate absentee voting for voters through the mail and in their offices.

Currently, those who may vote by mail-in absentee ballot include:

  • military personnel, their dependents and overseas citizens;
  • students who temporarily reside outside the county;
  • voters who temporarily reside outside Kentucky;
  • voters who are incarcerated but have not yet been convicted;
  • voters whose employment takes them outside the county for all days and hours the polling place is open;
  • and voters of advanced age or who suffer from disability or illness.

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained by contacting your county clerk by phone, fax, e-mail, mail or in person. The county clerk will mail you the absentee ballot application, or you can get an application in person at the county clerk’s office. Either you can return the completed application by mail or you can hand-deliver it to the county clerk’s office.

The phone numbers of the county clerks are (606) 787-6471 for Casey County, (502) 574-5700 for Jefferson County, (270) 692-2651 for Marion County, (502) 348-1820 for Nelson County and (502) 477-3215 for Spencer County.

Those who don’t qualify to vote by mail-in absentee ballot may still be eligible to vote in person before Election Day. In-person absentee voting starts no later than 12 working days prior to Election Day in all Kentucky counties. Some counties have already opened in-person absentee voting during the county clerk’s regular business hours.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, is majority whip in the Kentucky General Assembly. He represents the 14th District that encompasses Casey, Marion, Nelson and Spencer counties as well as part of Jefferson County. 

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