An estimated 170,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past got back their right to vote through Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive action last December. The problem is, no one has told them they can register and vote.

The Kentucky Democracy Project is a new effort to register, educate and mobilize tens of thousands of Kentucky voters, particularly people with felonies in their past, and get people out to vote.

“We’re dedicated to reaching the 170,000 Kentuckians who got their right to vote back through Governor Beshear’s December 2019 Executive Action and spreading the word about the 2020 election process to make sure people know how to cast their vote through the mail or by voting in person early,” said Debbie Graner of Frankfort, a leader in the effort. “The voices and efforts of people with felonies in their past are especially important to this campaign.”

The Kentucky Democracy Project has a goal to build a healthy democracy where everyone has a voice and a vote, and is listened to by elected leaders. It has a particular focus on communities often left out of the political decision-making process – lower income communities, people of color, and young people.

The Kentucky Democracy Project’s work includes online trainings, phone banks to register and mobilize voters, literature drops on doorsteps and in public spaces, COVID-19 safe voter registration tables and canvassing and mailings.

The Kentucky Democracy Project’s website at www.KentuckyDemocracy.org serves as a clearinghouse of key information about the 2020 voting process. There is a place for people to opt-into a texting conversation with a volunteer to help figure out if they got back their right to vote, links to trainings and phone bank events people can use to get involved in this work, and other key information.

To get involved or learn more, visit www.KentuckyDemocracy.org.

Here are some highlights about how this year’s election will work:

• All Kentuckians concerned about COVID-19 may request a ballot at www.GoVoteKY.com starting now.

• Oct. 9 is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot through www.GoVoteKY.com.

• Requested ballots won’t get printed and mailed until Sept. 15, so it may not arrive right away.

• Voters should fill out mail ballots completely, including signing and sealing both envelopes and not removing any flaps – reasons many primary election ballots were not counted.

• Completed ballots can be mailed or dropped off at a secure drop box in the county or at the county clerk’s office.

• The deadline to mail in or drop off a completed ballot is Nov. 3, but doing it as early as possible is encouraged.

• Early in-person voting (for people who didn’t vote by mail) begins Oct. 13 including at least 4 hours on three Saturdays leading up to election day.

• Counties may reduce the number of sites for in-person voting Nov. 3, but there will be at least one countywide site.

• Voters who are unable to get photo ID because of COVID-19 will be allowed to vote.

There are dozens of long-standing efforts in Kentucky to register voters and fight for voting rights of people with felonies in their past. The Kentucky Democracy Project is not doing it alone, but hopes to make a valuable contribution to the effort.

The Kentucky Democracy Project is a campaign of Kentucky Coalition, a social justice organization supporting leadership development, grassroots organizing and public policy advocacy in Kentucky, across the South and in Appalachia, established in 1984. It is affiliated with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.

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