Through early afternoon, light voter turnout in most areas

05/20/2014 01:41 PM

County clerks and election officials on Tuesday reported lighter voter turnout in most counties than in 2010 — the last election with county offices and a U.S. Senate race on the ballot.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes had predicted that voter turnout would fail to crack 30 percent, down from 32 percent statewide turnout in 2010 and 2006.

“A little over halfway through the day, consistent with Secretary Grimes’ prediction, most of the county clerks with whom we’ve spoken are reporting light turnout,” said Lynn Zellen, spokeswoman for the secretary of state.

In addition, Zellen said the state Board of Elections has received inquiries from “a number of voters and county clerks” about procedural questions. She did not say any of the clerks had reported major disruptions to voting.

Mixed returns in southern Kentucky

County clerks in some of the areas with hotly-contested legislative primaries reported varying degrees of voter turnout so far Tuesday. Take, for instance, counties that are part of the 16th state Senate District in southern Kentucky where Republican Sen. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello is facing a tough challenge from Max Wise, a Compbellsville University professor.

One of the most populous counties in the district, Russell County, featured scores of Republican candidates running for local offices, and officials there were expecting heavy turnout. Russell County Clerk Lisha Popplewell didn’t immediately return a call from Pure Politics.

Wayne County, Gregory’s home county, had fewer GOP candidates for local offices than four years ago and that was being reflected in the turnout so far Tuesday, said Wayne County Clerk Josephine Gregory.

Absentee ballots also were down from four years ago, she said. She said 182 voters cast their ballots early in the clerk’s office and another 100 voters requested paper ballots.

In Taylor County, Wise’s home county, Clerk Mark Carney was expecting 300 absentee ballots to be returned and had gotten 314, which was about on pace with four years ago.

Carney said he hadn’t gotten specific reports from precincts about the turnout.

Lower-than-expected turnout so far in Northern Kentucky

Despite competitive primaries for judge-executive in each of the three big Northern Kentucky counties, voting in Kenton, Boone and Campbell county has been slow.

Campbell County also is the largest county in the GOP primary for the open 24th state Senate District race to replace Sen. Katie Stine of Southgate.

County Clerk Jack Snodgrass said turnout will likely be between 20 percent and 24 percent, which would put it close to the 23.3 percent turnout from 2010.
Snodgrass said his office received 428 walk-in absentee ballots and 90 mail-ins.

In Boone County, turnout was about 10 percent with three hours to go before polls closed at 6 p.m. Election officials were hoping total turnout would reach 20 percent by the end of the day — down from 26 percent in 2010. Clerk Kenny Brown’s office collected 74 paper absentee ballots — half of the 148 returned in 2010 — and had 596 walk-in absentee voters, which is 10 percent off of 2010’s pace.

That doesn’t bode well for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, who had focused on Boone County as a stronghold.

Also in the GOP primary, Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore is running for a fifth term against County Commissioner Matt Dedden. And in the state House, Rep. Addia Wuchner of Boone County faces a challenge from David Martin in the 66th District.

And in Kenton County, Clerk Gabrielle Summe estimated the turnout to be low based on reports from the poll workers. She said a few precincts have been busy for short periods of time but overall turnout will be close to what it was in 2010 when 18 percent of registered voters went to the polls.

Summe said her office has received 584 walk-in absentee ballots and 265 ballots mailed in.

The total number of mail-in ballots in each county could go up because more could be received before 6 p.m.

- With reporting from Don Weber in Northern Kentucky_


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