Voter turnout statewide appears to have been lower than in 2008

jpatton1@herald-leader.comjwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 6, 2012 

  • voter turnout

Nearly 60 percent of Kentucky's voters went to the polls, according to incomplete results Tuesday night, and the turnout contributed to a variety of Election Day problems.

With 118 of the state's 120 counties reporting Tuesday night, the Kentucky secretary of state's office said 57.9 percent of registered voters had cast ballots.

That's well behind the turnouts of 64 percent in the 2008 general election and 64.7 percent in 2004.

Nevertheless, the turnout caught some county election officials by surprise. Some counties ran short of paper ballots, and a company that supplies them said Tuesday night that it printed and delivered 35,000 extras to fill the need in 15 counties.

The extent of the problem wasn't immediately clear, but the secretary of state's office said voting had not been disrupted.

Jessamine County Clerk Eva McDaniel said one precinct in Wilmore ran low on paper ballots but didn't run out.

Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass said officials had a vendor print about 1,000 extra ballots and distribute them Tuesday to about 20 precincts that ran low.

Many Kentucky counties continue to use paper ballots that are scanned electronically after voters fill them out.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Board of Elections and Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force reported receiving a vote-buying complaint Tuesday in Fayette County.

No specifics were released, according to a news release from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The county clerk's office said the complaint would be referred to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's office.

According to Conway's office, there were 11 calls from Fayette County, including one of general election fraud, which could be the vote-buying complaint. Because election officials cannot comment on specific allegations, the details of the complaint will not be known until the investigation is completed.

The state election-fraud hot line had received 130 complaints by mid-afternoon. Most involved procedural questions, but there were allegations of vote buying or selling in Clay, Knox, and Wolfe counties.

Some voters in Jessamine county were given the wrong paper ballots at a precinct in Nicholasville early Tuesday. Some weren't able to vote in the Nicholasville city commission race.

McDaniel, the county clerk, said the precinct was using two ballots, and some voters accidentally were given the wrong one. An initial report put the number of affected voters at 40, but McDaniel said the number was lower.

McDaniel said she checked with the secretary of state and attorney general, and both indicated that voters would not be able to vote again to correct the error.

A few voting-machine problems contributed to waits in Fayette County. Officials reported that some voters waited as long as hour, although many were able to vote without delay.

Tracy Merriman of the county clerk's office said a malfunction halted voting at the Castlegate precinct for about 20 minutes. Fayette election officials said they had sent about a dozen extra voting machines to precincts where the turnout was particularly heavy.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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