Kentucky Politics

Kentuckians who want to switch political parties ahead of the 2022 primary elections have until the end of the year to do so.

Kentucky’s Republican Party has steadily gained more registered voters in the state and the number of Democrats has declined. Democrats still make up a plurality of voters in Kentucky and have for all of modern history.

Secretary of State Michael Adams issued a statement encouraging voters who want to switch parties to do so by the end of the week.

“If you are currently a registered voter and want to vote in a political party’s primary election next May, by law you must be registered to vote in that party by this Friday, December 31,” Adams said.

People can register to vote, update party affiliations or check on their registration statuses on the secretary of state’s website.

Kentucky is one in a handful of states that have closed primaries, meaning people who aren’t registered for a particular party can’t cast ballots in its primary elections.

Adams has lobbied state legislators in recent years to extend the party-switch deadline to a date closer to the primary election, but lawmakers haven’t done so.

Earlier this month on WKYT, Adams said the deadline is “a little arbitrary.”

“The reason it’s there is so you don’t have gaming of the system—people switching and switching back, I get it. But I also think a lot of people make up their minds pretty close to the election, either to register or to change their party, I’d like to accommodate those voters if we can,” Adams said.

Though the Democratic Party dominated Kentucky politics for most of the last century, there are now only about 50,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

According to the most recent tally, Democrats currently make up 45.8% of Kentucky’s electorate, with 1,631,845 registered voters. Republicans make up 44.6% percent of the electorate, with 1,586,189 voters. 

The next primary election is May 17. All six of Kentucky’s congressional seats and most of the state legislature will be on the ballot.

Kentuckians will also cast ballots in local elections for city, county and school board positions. In Louisville, one of the few cities in the state with local partisan elections, voters will weigh in on who to replace outgoing Mayor Greg Fischer, who is term-limited.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.