Warren County battles voter registration misconceptions ahead of state elections

Elias Thompson, a WKU junior From Spring Hill, TN, and Julianna Low, a WKU sophomore from White House, TN, spent the morning of September 28 canvassing Bowling Green neighborhoods for Andy Beshear’s campaign.

Matthew Williams

The Warren County Clerk’s office is set on clearing up students’ misunderstandings about registering to vote after running into problems last November.

Kari Kunkel, deputy clerk for Bowling Green, said that the County Clerk’s office ran into problems last year when students were misinformed on how to register to vote.

Kunkel said students were told the wrong dates and couldn’t figure out their designated polling location. False text messages were sent out confirming people’s registration when it wasn’t actually received, and some were registering on sites not affiliated with the government.

“We are really just wanting to drive home the fact that govoteky.org is really the best way to ensure that it’s legitimate,” Kunkel said.

Students who were “registered” on other websites such as voter.org and turbovote.org later found out the County Clerk’s office never received their information.

The County Clerk’s office isn’t set up with those organizations, and it isn’t forwarded anything submitted on these websites. It’s become a concern for the office because employees don’t know where people’s information ends up after registering on an illegitimate site.

“They are not associated with the State Board of Elections or the Secretary of State’s office at all,” Kunkel said. “In an era of mass identity fraud, it’s important to make sure you’re on a secure website.”

Kunkel’s example in recognizing a legitimate website comes from when a person goes on govoteky.org, after clicking where it says to register, they’re forwarded to the Kentucky secretary of state’s page.

When the page is linked to a government site, it’s a sign that the person is on a legitimate website.

“We’re going to send a confirmation when you are registered,” Kunkel said. “Keep it in your brain to go check it.”

This year’s registration deadline is Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.

Time is something the County Clerk’s office emphasizes because some believe they have until midnight to register, since they’re doing it online. The voter registration system will not take anything past the deadline time whether online or in person. Students living on campus can vote at either Bowling Green Towers and W.R. McNeill Elementary School.

“We want to make it as easy for students as we can,” Kunkel said. “We want everybody to participate and anyone who wants to participate to have the opportunity to register at their campus address.”

Donovan Taylor, a criminology major from Russellville, is still deciding
what the best option is with his living circumstances.

“I will be registering in Bowling Green most likely if I plan to move,” Taylor said. “If I don’t move, then I’ll register in my hometown.”

There’s also the option for a student to register at their home address.

A student can request an absentee ballot by calling, emailing or showing up in person at the County Clerk’s office for their home address. The ballot can be returned through the mail or in person.

People have to choose whether they want to have a say in their home county elections or where they go to college, but it can never be both.

Elaine Losekamp, a WKU student, encouraged students to get registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day.

“I feel like a lot of decisions are made by a very small portion of Americans,” Losekamp said. “I think that our government will be a lot more representative of what we actually want if more people are actually active in voting.”

Reporter Matthew Williams can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu.