Kentuckians will make their way to the polls on Tuesday to vote in races up and down the ballot from the federal to local level. Turnout is expected to be on par with the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections.
About 32 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Kentucky’s 2010 mid-term election and 27 percent in the 2014 mid-terms. This year, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting turnout around 30 percent. Her office tracks absentee ballot totals as an indicator of turnout on election day. Grimes says she hopes this year’s primary bucks a recent trend of dismal participation rates.
"My hope is that folks realize that our elections should be determined by a majority of our electorate and not a minority, which is what we have had in the past," Grimes told WKU Public Radio.
Only 20 percent of Kentucky’s registered voters turned out for the 2016 presidential election and only 12 percent in the last governor’s race in 2015. Grimes is urging Kentuckians not just to show up at the polls, but to go prepared and informed. Voters can check their polling location and view sample ballots at GoVoteKY.com.
The ballot contains county offices, all 100 seats in the Kentucky House, half of the state Senate, congressional races, and non-partisan judicial races.
One of the most high-profile contests is for the 20th District House seat that covers Warren County. The seat belongs to State Representative and former House Speaker Jody Richards who is retiring after more than four decades in office. The five-way Democratic primary includes Patti Minter, Slim Nash, Eldon Renaud, Rick DuBose, and Ashlea Shepherd Porter. Candidates Ben Lawson, Troy Brooks, and Todd Alcott are seeking the Republican nomination.
Another contest to watch is in the 19th House District which includes Edmonson County and part of Warren County. Republican Incumbent Michael Meredith faces a challenge from Brian Strow. The Democratic race features Jacob Moore, William Fishback, and Daniel Wayne Johnson.
Both Meredith and State Representative Jim DeCesare were embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal in Frankfort. DeCesare isn't seeking re-election to his 17th District House seat that he has held since 2004. The district covers Butler County and a portion of Warren County. The four-way Republican primary features David Graham, Steve Sheldon, Mike Wilson, and Joey Franzell. The winner will face Democrat Malcolm Cherry in the November election. Cherry is running unopposed in his party's primary.
State Senator Mike Wilson of Warren County is being challenged for his 32nd District seat in the Kentucky Senate. He faces fellow GOP member Darrell Traughber. The winner will meet Democrat Jeanie Smith in the fall election.
Another important race is in Western Kentucky featuring the 8th District state Senate seat that covers Daviess, Hancock, and McLean counties. The seat belongs to Republican Joe Bowen who is retiring. The GOP primary includes State Representative Matt Castlen and Diane Burns Mackey. The winner faces Democrat and Owensboro City Commissioner Bob Glenn in the November general election.
The 14th District House seat held by Representative Matt Castlen is also in play with Castlen running for state Senate. Republicans Scott Lewis and Jordan Lanham are running for the seat that covers Ohio County and part of Daviess County. The winner of the GOP primary will compete against Democrat Elizabeth Belcher in November.
In the 2nd District Congressional race, Republican incumbent Brett Guthrie is running unopposed. The Democratic candidates are Brian Pedigo, Grant Short, Rane Sessions, and Hank Leiderman.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says every voter has a right to cast their ballot free of interference and intimidation. His office will be monitoring Tuesday's primary election to ensure that nothing illegal takes place at the polls. Kentuckians can report suspected violations to an election fraud hotline at 800-328-VOTE. Investigators from the AG’s office will also be staged throughout the commonwealth to respond to any complaints. Beshear’s office coordinates election monitoring with the State Board of Elections, Secretary of State’s Office, Kentucky State Police, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the FBI.
WKU Public Radio will have election results on air and online throughout the evening starting at 6:00 p.m. central, 7:00 p.m. eastern time.