(LEX 18) — Voter registration in Kentucky has surged, according to Secretary of State Michael Adams.
From September 1 through October 11, which was the voter registration deadline for the upcoming election, Kentucky had 22,613 new registrations.
“These are the strongest voter registration numbers since Fall 2020, when a record 2 million Kentuckians voted,” said Adams. “With congressional, state legislative, judicial and local races on the ballot, plus two constitutional amendments, I hope this augurs strong participation in November.”
Adams said Republicans and Democrats currently make up the majority of the electorate. However, he says the number of registered Independents is quickly growing.
"There's been a surge of Independent voters — voters who are not Democrats or Republicans by registration. Of those, 45% are young voters — 18 to 29," Adams told LEX 18 earlier this month.
According to Adams, Republican registrants currently account for 45.4% of the electorate with 1,629,364 voters. From September 1 to October 11, Republican registration increased by 10,920 voters, a 0.67% increase. Democratic registrants account for 44.8 percent of the electorate, with 1,607,218 voters. During that same time frame, Democratic registration increased by 1,474 voters, a .09% increase.
Voters registered as Independent or with other affiliations account for 9.8% of the electorate, with 353,645 voters, according to Adams. From September 1 to October 11, independent registration increased by 3,973 voters, a 1.1% increase.
However, Dr. Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, points out that most independent voters align with one of the two major political parties.
"We want to see ourselves as independent, usually we aren't," said Voss. "Most people who claim to be politically independent aren't. And when we watch their voting patterns, they're either fairly consistently Democrats or fairly consistently Republicans."
So, he believes in most states, the rise of the Independents isn't going to do much. But in Kentucky, he believes it'll matter more than in other states.
"In Kentucky, the rise of the independents is a little more meaningful than it has been in other states. Partly because we have a closed primary system. If you register as an Independent, you're taking a hit. You're giving away power to help decide who the likely winners in a contest will be," said Voss. "It's a more meaningful independence — a more pugnacious statement — I'm not registering for either of those folks."