Challenging citizens to be more engaged
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 5, 201 7) — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was in Lexington on Tuesday on the final date of her statewide civic health tour to challenge Kentuckians to become more involved and engaged citizens.
“Lexington is a unique, urban city which provides a lot of tools for engagement,” said Grimes. “Look all around you – there are multiple ways in which you can be involved and contribute to the overall well-being of our citizenry, whether it is politically, socially, or culturally. But, we have to also look outside of the city and find how we can help other parts of our commonwealth.”
Grimes began the tour in response to the Kentucky Civic Health Index, released in January, which measures the state of engagement and civic literacy in the commonwealth through the study of several indicators.
The index found that Kentucky improved in national rankings in social connectedness, community engagement and voter registration since Grimes released the first report in 2012. But, it also showed that fewer than half of Kentuckians have confidence in media, a decline of more than 10 percent in three years, and fewer Kentuckians are trusting of their neighbors. Overall, Kentucky ranks 48th in the nation, ahead of only New Mexico (49th), Montana (50th) and Utah (51st), for public confidence in media.
Joining Grimes’ discussion was a panel including University of Kentucky student body president Rowan Reid, Dr. D. Stephen Voss, a UK professor, Frankfort reporter for CNHI News Service Ronnie Ellis, and Mary Cobb of Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
“I find that a lot of folks don’t want to deal with government,” said Ellis. “We have to have more civics education to show people the power of their vote.”
All the panelists said they were encouraged by positive shifts the report shows in volunteerism. Cobb said her organization is seeing an uptick in volunteers and that she is now focusing on sustaining volunteers in the long term.
In a discussion on media, Reid said millennials seems to get a bad rap for blindly sharing news that is untrue, but noted that education could help people understand bias or what is untrue.
“Critical thinking is what it takes to discern bias in news,” said Voss. “Millenials alone don’t deserve a bad rap because older people also share news that support their own views.”
Partners on the Kentucky Civic Health Index are the Secretary of State’s office, the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility at Western Kentucky University, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.
The full Civic Health Index and related information is available at sos.ky.gov.