Only about 20 percent of Kentucky’s 3.2. million registered voters made it to the polls for Tuesday’s primary election.
Part of the problem was the chilly, rainy weather. Another was a presidential primary for Democrats, but not for Republicans.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont battled late into the night for Kentucky’s 55 delegates and five superdelegates. But the Republican presidential caucus was held in March, won by Donald Trump. That left only downticket races for Republicans.
That split voting could have further suppressed turnout, said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who made a prediction of 20 percent last week.
“While presidential primaries generally draw significant interest, overall turnout will likely to be driven lower because Republicans held a presidential caucus earlier this year,” Grimes said.
Independents are not allowed to vote in Kentucky’s primary elections. They make up about 72,262 out of about 3.2 million registered voters, according to the State Board of Elections.
Despite the low turnout, voting went relatively smoothly on Tuesday, election officials said.
As of 2:30 p.m. the attorney general’s voter fraud hotline had received 76 calls from 31 counties, including Anderson, Barren, Breathitt, Fayette, Harrison, Jefferson, Madison and Rockcastle, Attorney General Andy Beshear said. That was up from the November 2015 election count of 52 calls from 27 counties.
Most of the calls were about procedural questions. Fourcalls were about vote buying or selling from Breathitt County, two on vote buying from Jefferson, and calls about electioneering came from Floyd, Jefferson, Madison and Rockcastle counties.
Under state law, the Attorney General’s office cannot provide details of specific complaints or pending investigations, Beshear said.
Fayette County’s results were delayed for about an hour because of a defective memory card from the Garden Springs precinct, said County Clerk Don Blevins. That meant the results had to be entered by hand from a printout from the machine.
“It was no big deal, it just delayed us a bit,” Blevins said. “We go really slow to make sure we get it right.”
Absentee ballots were running ahead of the absentee returns from 2012, according to the Secretary of State’s office. As of Monday, 13,005 absentee ballots had been been returned in person, and 7,220 had been returned by mail, compared to 12,202 in person and 6,235 by mail in 2012.
About 13 percent of Kentucky voters cast ballots in the 2012 primary election, the last presidential election cycle. In 2008, when the office of U.S. president was an open seat, primary voter turnout was approximately 31 percent.