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Are two ballot referendums driving Kentucky's voter registration surge, and will that translate to high turnout at the polls?


Kentucky’s chief election officer isn’t expecting two constitutional amendments on the November ballot to drive high turnout.

The most high profile of the two will determine the future of abortion rights in the state.

A Kansas abortion amendment in August produced record turnout, but Secretary of State Michael Adams said he doesn’t predict the same in Kentucky.

“In Kansas, which is smaller than Kentucky by population, $22 million was raised and spent by the two sides collectively on that question, and in Kentucky, only $2 million has been raised and reported," Adams said. "Now, those committees aren’t subject to contribution limits and they can certainly raise a lot more before it’s over, but it takes a lot of money and paid messaging to get the vote out on one of those questions.”

For Kentucky’s other constitutional amendment, voters will decide if the state legislature can call itself into special session. Currently, only the governor can summon lawmakers back to Frankfort.

Sec. Adams is predicting 40% of registered voters will cast ballots in next month’s mid-term election, which is typical turnout in a non-presidential year.

The commonwealth has experienced a surge in new voter registrations, adding nearly 10,000 people to the rolls in August. Adams attributes much of that to the decline of COVID-19. Political parties and civic groups were stymied the past two years in their ability to hold voter registration drives.

Kentucky's deadline to register to vote in next month's general election is Oct. 11.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.