KFTC Blog

Straightening out who can vote and who can't in Kentucky

Posted by: Dave Newton on September 24, 2018

gIMG_5084To register and vote in Kentucky, you need to be at least 18 years old by Election Day (Tuesday, Nov 6th), you have to live in Kentucky (temporary student housing works), and you have to be a US citizen.

Those are the basics, but things get a little trickier in Kentucky because our criminal justice system plays an unusual role in taking people's right to vote away. 


People with felonies in their past -  Can't (generally) Vote.

Kentucky disenfranchises people with felonies in their past and is harsher than almost any state in the US in that regard.  People can request their rights be restored after they've served their time through this form, but few people know about the process and Governor Bevin denies many requests.  People who have had their record expunged of felonies can also vote.  KFTC's long-term goal is to change Kentucky's Constitution so that people get the right to vote back when they've served their debt to society including prison time, probation, and parole, but for now, this remains a barrier for over 312,000 Kentuckians.


People it misdemeanors in their past - Can Vote!

If someone has a misdemeanor in ther past, that doesn't stop them from voting in Kentucky.  Many people in this situation may have been told that they can't register and vote, but they absolutely can


People currently in jail serving for a misdemeanor - Can't Vote

This disenfranchisement comes from section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution along with felony disenfranchisement.


People serving probation and parole for a misdemeanor - Can Vote!

Even though you're still serving your time, there's nothing stopping you from registering and voting in this case.

 

People in jails pre-trial who were charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor - Can Vote!

If you're in jail because you're awaiting trial or sentencing for any offense (and you've never been convicted of a felony), you do have the right to vote.  That's a big deal, because in many Kentucky jails about 70% of the population is pre-trial.

Whereas pre-trial folks in the jails can legally vote absentee and we can help them, the logistics of that are tricky.

To vote absentee, there are a lot of hoops to jump through for anyone:20180908_113050(0)

0. You have to be registered to vote and you have to know what county you're registered in.  Alternately, in this case, you can register at the jail, but then that's an extra step.

1. You have to make the request by phone, email, or fax to the County Clerk where you're registered now for an absentee ballot and you have to give a legally recognized reason such as:
- Advanced in age, disabled, or ill
- Military personnel, their Dependents, or Overseas Citizens
- A student who temporarily resides outside the county
- A voter who temporarily resides outside of Kentucky and who maintains eligibility to vote in Kentucky, such as a "snowbird"
- Incarcerated, but not yet convicted of a crime
(or a few other conditions)

2. The clerk will then check your name against the voter file and will mail you a formal application for an absentee ballot.
 
3. You'll fill out that application and return by mail, and the Clerk's office will have to receive it by Oct 30th, 2018 for it to be valid.

4. The clerk will then send you an absentee ballot, which you'll have to receive, fill out, and mail back and the clerk will have to receive by 6pm on Election Day.

That's a lot of mailing and back-and-forth, so keep that in mind when talking to people who say they're going to vote absentee.

To complicate matters a little more, jails have some restrictions of what people can get in the mail that might be challenging to navagate, and it's not automatic that we'll be able to gain access to jails to register people or help them through the process.

But it's not legal to disenfranchise people in jails who are pre-trial and it's a misdemeanor to prevent someone from registering to vote, so we have the law on our side.

With all of this in mind, know that some KFTC chapters are reaching out to their local jails to help make sure people awaiting trial can register and vote.  Please contact Dave@kftc.org if that sounds like something you'd like to get involved in. 

The voter registration deadline in Kentucky is Oct 9th, 2018. 

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KFTC members speak up in D.C. this week for Just Transition

Posted by: KFTC Staff on September 24, 2018

This week, a delegation of nearly 40 Appalachians from at least eight states – including eight KFTC members – are in Washington DC to meet with members of Congress and push for urgently n

NKY Hosts Dolores Screening

Dolores Panel members Brenda Moran, Heyra Avila, Monick Chia, and Irene Encarnacion
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on September 24, 2018

On September 22nd the Northern Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth partnered with LULAC – Cincinnati, Mass Action for Black Liberation, Northern Kentuc

Housing Issues At Forefront of Bowling Green Local Elections

Posted by: Nancy Bridges on September 19, 2018

In a recent Daily News article "Census data show local growth, challenges", Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said, "It is gratifying to see we are growing. Industry recruitment and workforce development have been a major focus of the local officials in recent years." Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said, “As a community, we have worked together to that goal and we are making progress thanks to the efforts of city, county and state government."

Introducing Grace!

Posted by: Grace McKenzie on September 17, 2018

Hey y’all! I’m Grace Todd McKenzie. Please use she/her pronouns when referring to me. I’ll be working with the Madison County and Wilderness Trace KFTC chapters from late August though late April as I complete my final practicum in my Masters of Science in Social Work. Kentuckians For The Commonwealth was my first choice for this practicum and I am so excited to start digging deeper into the work of KFTC!

Benham & Jackson are first Kentucky cities to pass a local resolution supporting miners and communities

Posted by: KFTC staff on September 15, 2018

The Benham City Council in Harlan County and Jackson City Council in Breathitt County are the first local governments in Kentucky to pass a local resolution calling on members of Congress to pass three bills needed to help sick, disabled, retired and unemployed coal workers and their families and communities. Benham’s city government took the unanimous action at its monthly meeting on September 13. Jackson's city government adopted the resolution one week later on September 20, 2018.

Advocates hope other local governments may soon follow their example. A similar resolution was adopted several weeks ago in Virginia by the City of Big Stone Gap.

Madison County members take action at Andy Barr event

Posted by: Matthew Frederick on September 14, 2018

On August 27, the Berea Chamber of Commerce invited U.S. Rep. Andy Barr to an annual luncheon and legislative discussion. However, this year, local constituents responded to Barr’s presence with questions and concerns. Joining others from the community, KFTC members took the opportunity to demonstrate publicly.

Those present advocated for various issues, causes and pursuits. Some present, such as KFTC member Maggie Park, lifted up health care as a major concern. According to Park, “he doesn’t fight for what Kentucky needs, like health care.”

Northern Kentucky plans Hispanic Heritage Month activities

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on September 12, 2018

The northern Kentucky KFTC chapter plans to particpate in several upcoming events to help celebrate this year's Hispanic Heritage Month. The Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15 through October 15, and serves as an excellent opportunity to celebrate Latino heritage and the growing Latinx community in northern Kentucky.

To celebrate this work, the local chapter will be tabling at the Cristo Rey Parish festival in Florence. Cristo Rey is a Catholic parish in Florence, and focuses on the need for the local Latinx community. KFTC members will be on hand to register voters, hear what issues local communities are facing, and look for opportunities to work together with allies.

Voter Registration Deadline is October 9. How can you help?

Posted by: Dave Newton on September 11, 2018

Fresh Fusion 6 - 2018

Today is exactly 4 weeks until the October 9 Kentucky Voter Registration Deadline. What are YOU doing to register voters and make sure people you know are all set to vote?

If you're not registered, or need to update your voter address, get down to your local County Clerk's office or register online - http://www.govoteky.com

If you want to check your voter registration status just to be safe, visit the Voter Information Center - https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/vic/

Note that students who are away from home going to school have the right to either use a permanent home address or temporary local address as their voting address, but I encourage students to consider registering locally especially if home is far away (Election Day is a school day).

Peace Slam 2018

Note also that 17 year-olds can register to vote now if they will by 18 on or before November 6, 2018.

If you'd like to volunteer to register voters, please contact your local KFTC organizer to volunteer or to suggest an event to register voters.

If you're outside of the area where a chapter is working, you can set up a voter registration drive of your own by reaching out to KFTC for training and materials.  Tom Herrick and Laura Lee Cundiff (pictured below) recently put together a voter registration drive in Versailles, for example. If you'd like to volunteer to set up your own voter registration event, please reach out to Dave Newton, Democracy Organizer at 859-420-8919 or Dave@kftc.org

Voter Registration in Versailles

Another way to get involved is to sign up for our Voter Engagement 101 Volunteer Training Online, with the next one on September 18. You'll learn how to register voters and why this is such a critical moment for voter empowerment work.

KFTC members are taking part in a week of climate action in California

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on September 9, 2018

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Seven members and two staff of KFTC are in San Francisco right now, participating in a week of climate actions called Solidarity to Solutions (Sol2Sol for short), aimed at bringing grassroots voices and solutions to the forefront during a major global climate summit that is being hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown and attended by many corporate and state leaders. The Kentuckians are among 500 grassroots delegates organized by It Takes Roots, a collection of four important networks, including the Climate Justice Alliance, Right To The City, Grassroots Global Justice, and the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Sol2Sol week has been planned with the following goals: "To serve and be in solidarity with the leadership of communities in the Bay Area, across the state, and around the world; to challenge, expose and stop the massive subsidies being handed to multi-national corporations that are violating and destroying our families, ecosystems, and climate; to move public funds to repair, restore and protect Mother Earth and all her peoples; to end the epidemic of disaster capitalism, and redirect stolen wealth to the service, solidarity, and support of communities who are developing place-based solutions to address the root causes of climate change, poverty, and the crisis of democracy."

On Saturday, the nine KFTC members joined with more than 30,000 others in a large and boisterous march in downtown San Francisco, organized by the People's Climate Movement. 

"I'm honored to be here," said Alexa Hatcher from Bowling Green. "Yesterday was about connecting to one another. Everyone was taking care of each other. We were marching with a single purpose and that's to build solidarity where corporations and government powers have historically worked to keep us apart. We are not fighting against each other for scarce resources anymore. We're coming together against a common enemy that has worked to keep us silent and dependent to build a better future for us all."

Voting Rights work in Louisville over the weekend

Posted by: Dave Newton on September 8, 2018

KFTC's members attended today's Rally for Recovery in Louisville, hosted by PAR (People Advocating Recovery).  It's an annual event organized by people in long term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, and friends with the goal of building community and reducing the negative perceptions associated with addiction recovery.  It has been PAR's experience that the road to recovery is filled with obstacles that hinder reintegration into society and one of those obstacles is felony disenfranchisement.  Kentucky is one of just a handful of states where if someone is convicted of a felony, even something not serious enough to warrant one day in jail in some cases, they lose the right to vote for the rest of their lives unless given the right to vote back by a governor's pardon.  

That's not right.  We think that all people should be allowed to vote and at the least, former felons ought to be given the right to vote back after they've served their debty to society.  

KFTC members were on hand at today's event to help people who could to register to vote and we circulated petitions to lawmakers to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society.

In all, we got nearly 300 petition signatures and several voter registrations, plus we connected with several key ally organizations and former felons who are willing to tell their stories to move this issue forward.

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