Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The State Journal on enacting a law in Kentucky requiring cyclists to wear helmets:
It’s been eight years since Charlie Semones, a 6-year-old Early Learning Village kindergartner, died after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on Excel Court in the Silver Lake neighborhood. Charlie was not wearing a bike helmet at the time of the accident.
While 21 states and Washington, D.C., require minors to wear helmets when riding a bike, there are no laws in Kentucky that require bicyclists or even motorcyclists to wear them. But there should be.
Helmets are a cyclist’s best line of defense and protects against injury in 8 out of 10 crashes involving head bumps, according to the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB). Helmet usage also reduces the risk of a head injury by nearly 85%.
In 2018, the latest data released by the NTSB, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. — eight of whom were Kentuckians.
Last year, there were four bicyclists and 49 motorcyclists in the state who died as a result of traffic accidents in which they were not wearing helmets. So far in 2020, one cyclist and 19 bikers have been killed on Kentucky highways.
Many of these deaths and the 80,000 cycling-related head injuries treated in our country’s emergency rooms annually are preventable, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Each year since Charlie’s death, Frankfort Regional Medical Center has hosted Kid’s Safety Day to both honor his memory and increase awareness of child safety issues. During the event, children are entered in drawings for bicycles and receive free bike helmets.
It’s important to start a helmet-wearing habit early. Much like children are taught to click their seatbelt every time they get in a vehicle, parents should encourage children to wear helmets every time they ride their bike or trike, as well as model that behavior by wearing helmets themselves when riding.
We urge state lawmakers to require that bikers wear helmets. It is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of a traumatic brain injury or death.
The Daily Independent on the announcement of a statue honoring a pioneering Kentucky educator:
A little-known Kentucky woman will soon receive some of the credit she deserves.
Pioneer educator Nettie Depp was a teacher and principal in Barren County; she was elected school superintendent in 1913, seven years before women won the right to vote. The win made her the first woman to be elected to public office in Kentucky.
Officials announced Aug. 5 a new statue would be installed at the state capital to honor Depp.
The statue will be created by sculptor Amanda Matthews, who has worked to make the statue a reality for years. It is expected to be installed on Aug. 21, 2021.
“It’s a wonderful moment for all women and girls in Kentucky because this is going to be brand new for the state of Kentucky,” Matthews said. “I think (Depp) has been overlooked, but more importantly I think she serves a proxy for a lot of other women who have also been overlooked.”
As school superintendent, Depp oversaw nearly 100 segregated community school districts in Barren County. Her responsibilities went beyond curricula and managing teachers to include constructing and maintaining facilites, coping with poor roads, managing resources and public relations.
She also advocated for fair teacher pay, writing in her regular newspaper column:
“Now, I can tell you why I place the schools first. It is this: We teachers take the children and teach them twenty days in the month for a little more than fifty-five cents each. Shame on you and all the rest of that class that would place higher value upon the sheep industry than you do upon the education of your people!”
Depp also worked to improve the living conditions of black children in her county and advocated for women’s suffrage.
At a time when much of the news is negative, the prospect of erecting a statue to honor a hard-working, ground-breaking Kentucky woman is uplifting. The move shows Kentucky is willing to acknowledge the contributions of its women and to hold them up as an inspiration and example to future generations of women in the commonwealth.
The Daily Independent on mail-in voting during the pandemic:
As the general election nears, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. As always, we encourage all eligible voters to cast a ballot for their candidates.
This year, though, the process is as controversial as the candidates.
With the pandemic ongoing, many are afraid to venture out on a day that’s sure to be crowded with people.
That’s why mail-in voting has become a hot topic.
Many use the terms “mail-in voting” and “absentee voting” interchangably while many declare they are not the same. The fact is each state offers different methods and uses different terminology for different ways of voting. Mail-in voting versus absentee voting is, in fact, a complicated topic.
At elect.ky.gov, there appears to be no real distinction between mail-in voting and absentee voting in Kentucky.
The website says:
“During the 2020 Primary Election, any registered voter may request to receive an absentee ballot in the mail by visiting http://govoteky.com/ and clicking ‘Absentee Ballot Request.’”
Ballots may also be cast using the following methods:
— Military, their dependents, or an overseas citizen
— Walk in to clerk’s office by appointment.
In more general terms, an absentee ballot — available since the Civil War — is meant to allow those who can not be present at a polling place the opportunity to vote. A mail-in ballot, a much broader term, is a form of absentee voting aiming to include more people in the voting process.
The fuss over absentee ballots and mail-in ballots is a waste of time and energy. The difference between the two depends on how your state’s voting process is set up. Ultimately, both processes allow citizens to vote when they otherwise might not have the opportunity.
Some argue mail-in ballots could be tampered with. It seems more likely computerized voting could be tampered with more easily than mail-in ballots. But, in fact, the United States has surprisingly honest elections.
Studies done by such organizations as Stanford University have found voting by mail does not favor voter share or turnout of either major political party. A study by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, found voting fraud is extremely rare in this country, with only 1,100 convictions out of 250 million mail-in votes cast in the last 20 years.
Those who wish to strengthen democracy have nothing to fear from mail-in ballots, regardless of how the process is labeled. It’s safe, it’s fair and it aims to give as many qualified citizens as possible the opportunity to have their voices heard.