'Decent' turnout expected for election

October 29, 2003|HERB BROCK

The number of people in the five counties who are registered to vote is a record. But county clerks don't expect a record number of them to cast ballots in Tuesday's general election.

A total of 70,539 people in Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties - including 37,721 Democrats and 29,487 Republicans - are on the registration books. But despite a fairly competitive gubernatorial race and a hotly-contest "moist" contest that will be decided in one county, most clerks don't expect a huge turnout.

As defined by the clerks, a big turnout would be 60 percent. Some of the clerks predict what they call a "decent" or "moderate" turnout of around 50 percent or perhaps a little better.

In Boyle, County Clerk Denise Curtsinger, whose books show 18,452 voters, including nearly 12,000 Democrats and more than 5,300 Republicans, said the number of absentee ballots counted so far is "about average for a gubernatorial election" and a "little heavier than what you'd see in a normal election without a governor or president at the top of the ballot."


"We've had 81 absentee votes cast on the machine in our office and we've counted 77 paper ballots (as of Monday morning)," said Curtsinger. "Those numbers are pretty good, but, based just on them, I can't say at this point what the overall turnout will be on Election Day."

Other than the race for governor and other statewide offices, the only other contests on the Boyle ballot are a race to fill an unexpired term on the Junction City Council and a contest to fill an unexpired term on the Perryville City Council.

In Casey, County Clerk Eva Miller also reported "pretty good" absentee voting, as of Monday.

"We've had 47 votes cast on the machine and another 36 paper ballots returned," Miller said. "For a small county like ours, those numbers are relatively high, especially when you consider there are no local races."

If the absentee voting reflects what the turnout will be on Tuesday, Miller believes there could be a turnout of 50 percent or so of the county's 10,708 registered voters, which include more than 8,300 Republicans and slightly over 2,000 Democrats.

In Garrard, County Clerk Stacy May reported absentee balloting as of Monday totaling 46 on the machine and 30 on paper, numbers she described as "about average" for a gubernatorial election.

May is predicting a "decent" turnout in the range of 40 to 50 percent of the county's 10,480 registered voters, including nearly 6,000 Republicans and 4,000 Democrats. There are no other contests on the Garrard ballot.

In Lincoln, County Clerk George Spoonamore said absentee balloting totaled 84 machine and paper votes as of Monday, but he doesn't believe that relatively high number translates into a big turnout on Tuesday.

Spoonamore is predicting a "fairly low" turnout of 35 to 40 percent of the county's 15,779 registered voters, including some 8,800 Democrats and 6,300 Republicans.

"It's been kind of dead around here, kind of slow going," he said. "There doesn't seem to be that much interest in the race for governor."

The only local race involving Lincoln County voters is the election of a circuit judge to serve Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties.

But there is a contest of intense local interest on the ballot of some precincts in Mercer, and that's one reason County Clerk Bruce Harper is forecasting a "moderately high" turnout of at least 50 percent.

The residents of Harrodsburg are voting "yes" or "no" on the issue of whether the city's larger restaurants will be able to sell alcoholic beverages. In the last "wet-dry" election in Mercer, there was a countywide vote and the proposition was defeated. It was beaten in Harrodsburg but by a narrow margin.

"We've had a slight increase in absentee balloting, compared to previous gubernatorial elections. That, plus the 'moist' election in Harrodsburg, leads me to believe we'll have a pretty good turnout," said Harper.

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