- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Republicans have added more than 77,000 people to their voter registration rolls since last year, easily outpacing Democrats while still trailing them in overall numbers.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced the new totals Thursday, less than a month before the Nov. 8 general election. The deadline to register to vote was last week.

Since November 2015, Republicans have added 77,242 voters while Democrats gained 11,385. Democrats still have a majority, claiming 51 percent of all registered voters compared with Republicans’ 40 percent. The rest are registered as third party or independent voters.

It appears Republicans are benefiting from large numbers of Democrats who have switched parties. Since March, Democrats added 44,712 new voters while Republicans added 46,328 new voters. But once you include people who switched parties or fell off the rolls completely, Republicans ended up with more than 77,000 additional voters while Democrats added just 11,000.

Republicans have been slowly gaining on Democrats in overall registration since 2008, when Democratic President Barack Obama took office. Obama has been hugely unpopular in Kentucky. Since 2008, Republicans have added more than 284,000 voters while Democrats have added more than 31,000. Republicans say the gains are signs of shifting political identities that could help them win control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time since 1920.

The Kentucky House is the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats.

“The Registration numbers show that Kentuckians are ready for change and are on the verge of electing a new majority for the state House this November,” Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson said.

Democratic Party spokesman Daniel Lowry noted that three of the party’s four candidates defeated Republicans in a series of four special elections in March.

Democrats often align with the views of the majority of Kentuckians, especially on the key issues of education, health care and job creation,” he said.

Grimes, a Democrat, noted more than 3.3 million people are registered to vote in November, the most ever. She attributed the increase to a new online voter registration system, which has signed up 106,000 new voters since March.

“It is going to save Kentucky hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Grimes said. “This is just the beginning.”

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