As Kentuckian prepare to go to the polls Tuesday to vote in the Primary Election, local county clerks are gearing up for one of the busiest days of the year for their office.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has projected a turnout of 30 percent or less of the 3.3 million people registered to vote in Kentucky for next week’s Primary Election.
A turnout of 30 percent would represent the highest participation in a Kentucky Primary Election in nearly a decade, according to Grimes. Approximately 32 percent of Kentuckians voted in the 2010 midterm Primary Election.
“Next Tuesday, I think you will see a Kentucky electorate that is beginning to get up, get out, and get loud with voters making their voices heard at the polls,” said Grimes. “We have witnessed dismal levels of participation in the last few years – 20 percent in 2016, a presidential election, and only 12 percent in the last Governor’s race in 2015. This year, I think we could see the number of Kentuckians going to the polls improving.”
Locally, Bracken County Clerk Rae Jean Poe said she expects more voters to turn out this year that in the last primary, even though only Democrats will be on the ballot since there is no opposition for Republicans.
“Maybe 55-60 percent,” Poe said. Even without Republican races there are still lots of local contests on the ballot, she said, including multiple candidates in the sheriff’s, county clerk’s and magistrate races.
“With so many people on the ballot, I feel like it’s going to be pretty high,” Poe said.
In the 2016 Primary Election, only 16.1 percent of Bracken County voters went to the polls.
In Mason County, that number was slightly higher at 18.1 percent in 2016. County Clerk Stephanie Schumacher was not available Thursday to make a prediction for her county but there are several races on the ballot which have generated lots of interest including the jailer ‘s and county attorney’s.
In Fleming County, Clerk Jarrod Fritz was out Thursday checking polling spots and getting keys to poll workers.
Fritz speculated that about 18 percent of Fleming County voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.
“It won’t reach 20 percent,” he said, explaining that getting voters out for primary elections is difficult. In 2016, 20.5 percent of voters turned out in Fleming County, according to information from the Board of Elections.
Also in 2016, Lewis County had a 13,9 percent response to the Primary Election ballot while 20.9 percent of Robertson County voters visited the polls.
Grimes tracks absentee ballot totals as an indicator of final turnout on Election Day. According to current statistics, Grimes projects turnout for the May 22 Primary Election will be about par with the midterm elections of 2014 and 2010 when 26.8 percent and 32.2 percent of Kentuckians voted, respectively.
As of Monday, nearly 25,000 voters had voted in person on machines in county clerks’ offices and approximately 12,000 mail-in absentee ballots were sent to voters who had requested them.
Grimes encourages voters to prepare to vote on May 22 by checking their polling places and viewing sample ballots at GoVoteKY.com, Kentucky’s one-stop portal for voters.
“We need a majority of Kentucky voters deciding our Commonwealth’s future, not a minority. I encourage every voter to cast their ballot in the Primary Election,” Grimes said.
Polls in Kentucky are open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on Election Day. Voters who are unsure of their precinct should check with their county clerk.