Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is calling on fellow elected officials, beginning with Kentucky constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly, to help restore trust in public institutions after a recent report on Kentucky’s civic health shows trust in media in the Commonwealth at an all-time low.
Grimes, the Commonwealth’s chief advocate for civic engagement, released the 2016 Kentucky Civic Health Index on Wednesday. The Index, which is available on the Secretary’s website at www.sos.ky.gov, measures the state of engagement and civic literacy in the Commonwealth.
“The foundation of our democracy and our nation depends on trust in our institutions and in each other,” Grimes said. “This new report shows an alarming years-long decline in Kentuckians’ confidence in news and media, and that corrosive distrust is perpetuated by the unadulterated peddling of fake information. Today, I am asking my fellow constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly to sign a pledge to refuse to traffic in fake and fact-less information, and to help restore their constituents’ trust in our public institutions and each other.”
The Index shows the Commonwealth improved in national rankings in social connectedness, community engagement and voter registration since Grimes released the first report in 2012. More Kentuckians are volunteering, making charitable contributions, and registering to vote. However, troubling findings revealed 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.
The pledge may be signed on the Secretary’s website, www.sos.ky.gov. All elected officials joining the effort will be publicly listed.
Grimes presented the first-ever Civic Health Index shortly after taking office in 2012. She then undertook an extensive effort to offset what the report showed as declining civic health by launching a 15-stop, statewide roundtable tour to discuss the finding and work toward solutions with Kentuckians.
“While we have made progress over the years, our work to ensure more citizens are active in their neighborhoods, communities, and the Commonwealth is not yet finished,” said Grimes. “I hope all Kentuckians will join me to help to restore trust in our public institutions, to get engaged in civic matters, and to usher in a new era of connectedness.”
Partners on the 2016 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.