Politics

Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath launched a voter registration initiative Saturday with a stop in Louisville.

McGrath, who is facing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November’s general election, is focusing her outreach efforts on historically disenfranchised voters, such as young, Black, and Hispanic voters. Another point of emphasis for the initiative is registering people who have committed non-violent felonies and had their voting rights restored last year through an executive order by Gov. Andy Beshear.

“But we’ve got to do that nationally, not just here in Kentucky,” McGrath said. “So as your senator, that’s what I’m going to be voting for and working for. Not to contract voting rights, which is the way Mitch McConnell is wanting to do it, but to expand them.”

McGrath, who lives in Georgetown, spent 20 years in the Marines as a fighter pilot. She sought Kentucky’s Sixth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, eventually losing to Rep. Andy Barr. 

Saturday’s tour included visits to Lexington, Hopkinsville and Owensboro. McGrath spent time with a group of about 20 people inside the Salvation Army on North 28th Street in Louisville for her second stop of the day.

While some did register to vote at the event, most of the afternoon was spent discussing several issues, like education, prison reform and racial justice. Helping with the event at the local level was the Jamon Brown Foundation.

Hayden Mosby, who was there with the foundation, said it’s important for candidates running for office to take time to visit with citizens from diverse backgrounds like the group present on Saturday.

“It just shows that they actually care and to get a better connection with them and not just hear them on TV or not knowing them personally,” Mosby said. “It gives them a better chance to see that they actually care and that they are invested in helping the communities and bettering the people.”

Last week, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams said he would like to scale back mail-in voting for the general election. June’s primary election saw Kentucky’s highest voter turnout rate for a primary since 2008, and a majority of people voted by mail.

McGrath referred to the notion of reducing mail-in opportunities as “ridiculous.”

“In my mind, the one thing I would ask the secretary of state is, does he think the coronavirus is going away?” she said. “Because it’s not. And so we have to make sure that people exercise their right to vote and are safe doing it.”

McGrath also touched on the importance of federal assistance to local and state governments during the pandemic. Senate Republicans revealed a new coronavirus relief proposal last week, and while funding for unemployment and stimulus checks is included in the package, Democrats are calling for more money to support essential services at the local and state levels.

“These are public servants,” she said. “You know, these are firefighters, police officers. This is our school systems. Everybody’s talking about going back to school right now, and state and local governments need the resources to be able to fund the school systems.”

McGrath said she intends to spend at least one day a week in Louisville until the election. The voter registration initiative will last until the deadline of Oct. 5.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.