Currently in Kentucky there are no options for early in-person voting. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, early in-person voting was accessible to many people. Voting stations were open on dates earlier than November 3rd. This provided more open windows for voters to participate.
Should this idea of early voting become a new law in KY? If you asked a group of middle school students in Kentucky, then the answer is “yes!”
Sage Markham, KMS 8th grader, authored, presented and passed this legislation at the KY Youth Assembly (KYA) Middle School conference, held virtually in December. Middle school students from around the commonwealth spoke, listened, debated and questioned their peers over 30 different pieces of legislation. Markham’s bill was to expand the voting opportunities to eligible voters and improve accessibility. “In person early voting shall be conducted on the three Saturdays preceding any primary election, regular election or special election. On these days, voting will be held between the hours of 9 A.M. and 4 P.M. in each county in Kentucky. Registered voters may cast their votes in the county clerk’s offices or designated voting offices on these days.” After passing the student-led House and Senate, Markham had an appointment with the student governor who commended her for her work. Not every idea was successful, though.
One highlight of the conference was the student elections. Abby Sears, KMS 8th grader, was a candidate for presiding officer. Candidates organized platforms and gave speeches trying to influence others to gain their votes. The offices are governor, lieutenant governor, president of the senate and speaker of the house. This was the first time that KMS had had a candidate! Abby’s platform issues were mental health awareness, supporting the homeless, and environmentalism. After the votes were tabulated, Abby was selected as President of the Senate! Sears reflected, “I was grateful for the opportunity and that my ideas had influenced others at the conference. The process was lengthy, but I’m glad I took this opportunity.” She will serve her role during the 2021 KYA Middle School conference.
Article and photos submitted by Shelli Engler