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Why does Kentucky have its governor election in odd-numbered years?

Most state elections happen in even-numbered years, so why is Kentucky's governor election different?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Monday’s the last day to register if you plan on voting in the 2019 primary election in Kentucky. So, for this WHAS Up, we’re asking: why does Kentucky elect its governor in odd-numbered years, when most state elections (Hey Indiana!) happen in even-numbered years?

The answer: ‘cuz some old dead guys said so.

And listen, I’m sure those old dead guys had some very good, old, reasons for doing so. But, I want to dive into some of the effects of holding elections in odd years today.

See, they turn out way fewer voters. I mean WAY fewer. Take a look at some of the counties here in our area. The 2016 election had almost double the voter turnout than the 2015 election.

Credit: WHAS11
The difference in voter turnout between even and odd-year elections for Jefferson, Bullitt, Carroll, and Oldham Counties.

Now, it is definitely true that presidential elections, in general, bring out more people. Totally valid. But, you should know that even 2014 saw a higher voter turn out than 2015. And don’t take my word for it, check out all of the numbers for yourself. (Side note: your tax dollars pay for all of this information, so get your money’s worth and keep up with it).

RELATED: Monday marks last day to register to vote for Kentucky primary

Many advocates for switching to even-numbered years for elections also point out that money can be saved when elections are consolidated.

Alright, so why do we still have odd-year elections in Kentucky? Well, there have been attempts to change it—as recently as last year, in fact. But, it requires a change to the state constitution, meaning it takes both the legislature and the voters to get it done. And, there are some political reasons that change is slow. Political scientists will point out that odd-year elections can be good for minority parties since people tend to sit them out. Plus, there’s a belief by some that it’s good to keep local issues and decisions distinct from the partisan bickering that happens at the federal level.



Want to know "WHAS up" with something? Rob Harris is your guy. He's talking to some of the smartest people in our community to find out more about science, history, urban legends, local quirks, and more. 

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