Workshop to help equip Kentucky voters

Madison Martin

For students or community members unsure of how to get their voices heard, an event will be offered this weekend to help attendees better understand how to become a more empowered member of democracy.

The Southern Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC), a grassroots organization advocating for better livelihoods and justice for its citizens, is based out of Bowling Green. The chapter will be offering a workshop on Saturday entitled “Voter Empowerment 101.”

According to its website, the local group is “currently working on fair housing, tax justice, fairness, voter empowerment and clean, safe and affordable energy options.”

The workshop intends to help educate participants on how to get involved in a variety of ways in the upcoming local, state and national elections as well as encourage others to do the same, according to Bowling Green native and WKU alumna Aeryn Darst, a member of the SOKY chapter who will be helping with the session.

Some of the topics to be discussed and learned are how to complete voter registration cards, along with how to effectively reach candidates with one’s concerns, Darst said. These are just some of the ways that demonstrate how multifaceted voter empowerment can be.

“If you don’t have voter empowerment, you don’t have a functioning democracy,” Patricia Minter, associate professor of history at WKU and a chapter member, said.

Minter said the chapter’s efforts in standing up for economic justice and greener practices were some of the reasons she decided to join more than two years ago. Her involvement in such causes has intersected with her research.

“What I learn from studying civil rights and human rights, is that grassroots democracy matters,” Minter said. “And grassroots organizing and engagement in the community matters. And it’s the most effective way to enact meaningful change. So I teach it and I research about it, but I also live it in my personal life.”

Being a participant in the organization for the past year was described by Darst as “intensive” but has allowed her to work on issues she cares about.

“For me personally, I would say [having the chapter] just gets me a lot of hope for change,” Darst said. “I’ve always been interested in the politics of Bowling Green, so being a part of the SOKY chapter gives me a way to have my voice heard and also work for change in a more proactive way.”

Minter strongly welcomes individuals to the event who feel as though they aren’t informed enough to make a decision during the upcoming election.

“This workshop’s for them,” she said.

Minter said anyone interested may become a chapter member and/or take part in the workshops, as the organization continues working to help people become more informed and engaged citizens.

“A democracy means that the people in every level of society feel empowered to make informed decisions that affect their community, their states, their nation,” she said, “and voter empowerment is about telling people that their vote matters, their individual participation matters, because without every individual, there is no functioning democracy.”

The workshop will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday at The Foundry Christian Community Center.

Reporter Madison Martin can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @missmadielaine.