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'Drys' suggest publishing names on 'wet' petition

August 08, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - An advertisement in local newspapers says the committee leading the fight against liquor-by-the-drink here may publish the names of those signing a petition to put the measure on the ballot.

The ad in today's Advocate and Thursday's Harrodsburg Herald reads: "Did you really sign the 'wet' petition?"

Local attorney Mike Conover, who has led opposition in previous local option elections, said his group had been informed by the county clerk that in the past there have been names entered multiple times.

Conover, a lawyer and a Christian minister, said he did not think all of the duplicate names were added fraudulently. He said the clerk's office has a better way to check for duplicate signatures this time, the fourth time the effort has been made to get legal alcohol sales here.

Gayle Johnson, the deputy county clerk who has checked the signatures on previous petitions said there were some duplicates, but if she found them, the names were counted only once. She was not aware of any names being from people who did not sign the petition.

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Johnson said she will enter the names of the signers into a computer program which will alphabetize the names, thereby making it easier to spot duplicates.

The signatures were gathered last year on cards mailed to city and county residents. Both sides said they knew some people got more than one card and some residents received none.

The ad says it was paid for by Mercer Pride & Progress, the organization that has opposed any form of legal alcohol sales either throughout the county or just in Harrodsburg. It says, "Mercer Pride and Progress Committee is considering publishing the complete list of voters who sign the current petition if the (Harrodsburg Local Option Committee) is successful in obtaining enough signatures to have the county clerk certify it. In any event, check our web site at good4mercer.org."

Conover said MP&P has considered publishing the names before, but has always declined and likely would do so again.

The names are public record, as the ad points out. "Many people aren't aware of this fact," the ad says. However, if MP&P does not publish the names, "There are people who will see they are published," Conover said.

Chairman of local option committee declines comment

Phillip Crump, chairman of the Harrodsburg Local Option Committee, the group backing legal alcohol sales, said Thursday night that he has no comment about the ad. When asked if he sees the ad as a threat to possible signers of the petition, Crump said, "They have the right to advertise and tell people to vote no. We're going around asking people to sign to get it on the November ballot. That's all we're doing.

"I'm not going to respond to it. The committee is not going to respond. We're going to let the voters respond. We want the people of Harrodsburg to vote for or against it."

Crump said 626 signatures, the number necessary to get the question on the ballot, must be turned in to the Mercer County clerk's office on Sept. 4.

The supporters of liquor by the drink are using a different method for obtaining the signatures. "We're walking around town (door-to-door) asking people to sign it," Crump said. "If they want to, fine; if they don't, fine. Everybody has the right to say yes or no."

The ad says in bold-face type, "Under the process as we understand it, the possibility exists, but has not necessarily occurred, that a person's name could be used on the petition without the person's knowledge. By having easier access to the certified list of names, any interested person with an Internet connection could easily check for their name(s) on the certified list once published."

The final sentence in the ad, and not in bold type, says, "We encourage you to inquire with the HLOC if you would like to insure that your name is not on their petition; or to remove your name if you did not sign the petition."



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