Wilmore Municipal holds Smithsonian exhibit; Sec. Michael Adam speaks

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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For nearly 250 years, Americans nationwide have taken part in an experiment to create a government “of, by, and for the people.” The Smithsonian Institution’s Voices and Votes program will be at the Wilmore Municipal Center from Oct. 30 – Dec. 11 to demonstrate how each generation continues to question how to form a “more perfect union.”

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is a traveling exhibit focusing on the action, reaction, vision, and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country.

On Oct. 29, the Wilmore Municipal Center featured a preview for the exhibit, with Secretary of State Michael Adams present as a speaker. Adams discussed his role as the secretary of state and what is being done to make voting secure and increase voting access.

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“We recognized that you can improve voter access and election security at the same time,” said Adams. “Enhanced access is important for voter turn-out, but so is election security. If voters think the elections are rigged, they won’t participate. That’s why we must enhance both access and security simultaneously. My campaign slogan was ‘make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.’ Access and security are not inherently contradictory. In fact, they are complementary.”

Secretaries of the state act as custodians for the electoral system. In 2020, Adams sought and was granted additional voting days, aiming to reduce clustering in the midst of the pandemic. Not only could voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, but also that previous Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

“For 30 years or so before 2020, in Kentucky, typically two percent of our voters voted by absentee ballot,” said Adams. “The other 98 percent voted on one day, a Tuesday, within a 12-hour span. That model was imperfect and anachronistic. In a pandemic, it would have been deadly.” According to career prosecutors and law enforcement in Kentucky, Adams adds, a longer period of time actually makes it easier to detect fraud, as it increases the number of exposure ballots will have.

For absentee voting, Adam’s office implemented a ballot request and tracking portal to increase the convenience of application. It increases the speed in which a ballot can be obtained and allows voters to track their ballots electronically. This also improves security, as it requires a voter to prove their identity through a photo ID. What’s more, officials now have the ability to track absentee ballots and watch for anything lost or stolen.

“Although expanding voting access has been seen typically as a liberal position, it isn’t,” concluded Adams. “There is nothing liberal or conservative about helping people get a job. There’s nothing liberal or conservative about helping people get an education. And there’s nothing liberal or conservative about helping people vote. We may disagree on the means of these policies, but we should all agree on the ends.”

The Wilmore Municipal Center will be hosting more special presentations as the Voices and Votes exhibit continues. These events include:

• Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. – Kentucky Chautauqua’s Madeline McDowell Breckinridge presented by Kelly O. Brengelman

• Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. – Jessamine County arts students’ visual arts gallery and musical performance

• Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. – Braver Angels panel discussion on civil discourse

• Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. – Reverend Robert Gates, great-grandson of a Camp Nelson soldier

• Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. – Joel Pett, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist

The Voices and Votes display is viewable each Friday – Sunday from 1-6 p.m. For more information, contact the Wilmore Municipal Center at (859) 858-4411.