FRANKFORT — Turnout for the May 17 primary is predicted to be one of the lowest in recent history with fewer than 10 percent of the state's 2.9 million registered voters expected to cast ballots.
Secretary of State Elaine Walker said at a news conference Tuesday requests for absentee ballots have been down, a key indicator of voter interest. Walker said her office has predicted voter turnout to be between 9 and 10 percent.
Turnout hasn't been that low since 1999, when only 6.4 percent of voters turned out to cast a ballot in a handful of contested primary races.
"I hope I'm proven wrong," Walker said. "I think that people have a tendency to believe that a primary is not very important."
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Walker, who is running in the Democratic primary for secretary of state, said she thinks not many people are aware that statewide offices are up for election this year and will be on the May 17 primary ballot. There was so much emphasis in 2010 on the races for the U.S. House and Senate that some people may have tuned out state elections this year, she said.
Walker was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in January to fill the term of Republican Trey Grayson, who left the office in January to take a job at Harvard University. Walker faces Lexington lawyer Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Democratic primary.
Beshear is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The Republican primary has three candidates in the governor's race.
In down-ticket Republican primaries, there are contested races for secretary of state, state auditor and commissioner of agriculture. In the Democratic primary, there are contested races for secretary of state, state treasurer and commissioner of agriculture.