Politics & Government

Calls to vote fraud hotline increase, voter turnout in Fayette County falls

A voter signed in at the Fontaine precinct before casting his ballot in the 2016 general election at Morton Middle School in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
A voter signed in at the Fontaine precinct before casting his ballot in the 2016 general election at Morton Middle School in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

For the second presidential election cycle in a row, voter turnout in Fayette County has dipped.

With all precincts reporting at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, 61.9 percent of registered voters turned out in Fayette County, according to the Kentucky State Board of Elections. That represented 139,131 of the 224,659 registered voters in the county.

Turnout in Lexington was 65.6 percent in 2012 and 72.7 percent in 2008.

The state Attorney General’s voter fraud hotline received 216 calls from 59 counties as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

With 119 of 120 counties reporting results as of 11 p.m. Tuesday (representing 99 percent of the state), vote turnout was 59 percent, according to the Kentucky State Board of Elections. That percentage represents 1.9 million ballots cast Tuesday. Kentucky has 3.3 million registered voters.

There were 20 calls from the Fayette County hotline, mostly dealing with procedural and voting machine issues. There were four reports of general election fraud made, according to the report from Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office.

Jefferson County had received the most calls, with 65. The calls from Jefferson were mostly about voting machines and procedure, with five about election fraud.

In the 2008 election, the hotline received 271 calls, the most ever on an Election Day. Most were procedural; four involved vote buying but were not substantiated. In 2012, the hotline fielded 183 calls from about 60 counties by 7:30 p.m. election day.

Statewide Tuesday, most of the calls involved procedural questions, although a call from Bath County reported disruption of the polls and there were reports of electioneering within 100 feet of the polls in Floyd, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton and Oldham counties.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and the Kentucky State Board of Elections met at 1 p.m. Tuesday to review voting issues across the commonwealth. By mid-afternoon, Grimes’ office said the board had received 77 calls, most for procedural questions. However, at the mid-day meeting, Grimes said the state had received reports about signs at precincts in Scott County reading “No Cell Phones.”

The signs were not issued by the board of elections, according to Bradford Queen, spokesman for Grimes’ office.

“We have communicated with county boards of elections and asked to them to remove,” he said.

There also seemed to be confusion over whether “selfies” were allowed in voting booths; they are, Grimes clarified.

Queen also said that Scott County and a few other counties have ordered extra ballots, which he said was not unusual. Scott County apparently requested 18,000, according to Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton.

“Scott County ordered what seemed to board members as a large number, so we checked into it and have learned that the county ordered fewer ballots than required under regulation,” Queen said in a statement. “The extra ballots have been delivered.”

In the May 2016 primary, the hotline received 119 calls, of which 114 were reviewed and no irregularities were found. Five calls are still under review.

Voter info

▪  Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.

▪  It’s legal to wear campaign buttons or T-shirts to vote in Kentucky.

▪  Voters must produce identification or be known by a precinct officer before voting.

▪  To find out whether you are registered to vote and where you vote, go to the Voter Information Center at the state Board of Elections’ website, Elect.ky.gov.

▪  Preview the Fayette County general election ballet and polling locations

▪  Share your voting experience on social media using hashtag #kyelect

Where the candidates stand

Not sure who to vote for Tuesday? Check out our Voters’ Guide to see where the candidates for president, U.S. Senate, Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District and state House seats in Fayette County stand on key issues.

▪  Where Jim Gray and Rand Paul stand on 18 key issues

▪  Where Andy Barr and Nancy Jo Kemper stand on 18 key issues

▪  Where candidates in Fayette County’s state House races stand on 5 key issues

▪  Meet the candidates in Central Kentucky’s state Supreme Court race

▪  Meet the candidates in the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council 2nd District race

▪  Where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on key issues

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