Politics & Government

Voter turnout tops 42 percent in tight race for Kentucky governor

Unofficial results for Kentucky’s 2019 general election show a voter turnout of more than 42 percent, well above the 31 percent predicted last week by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

There are 3,451,537 registered voters in the commonwealth, according to the Kentucky State Board of Elections, and Tuesday’s election brought statewide voter turnout of 42.2 percent.

Upwards of 1.4 million people cast ballots in the Nov. 5 election, and more than half of the state’s counties saw voter turnouts of at least 40 percent.

When Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin was first elected in 2015, voter turnout was 31 percent. In the May primary, turnout was less than 20 percent statewide.

In Fayette County, 47 percent of the 250,489 registered voters cast ballots, according to the state elections board. Democrat Andy Beshear outpaced Bevin in the state’s second-most populated county by significant margins, 65.5 percent to 33 percent.

In Jefferson County, 46 percent of the 611,150 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday, 67 percent of whom backed Beshear, with 31.5 percent backing Bevin.

Swaths of Appalachian Kentucky, including Rockcastle, Jackson, Laurel, Leslie and Pulaski counties, gave Bevin his biggest margins of support across the state, while other Eastern Kentucky counties, including Breathitt, Wolfe, Magoffin, Knott, Floyd, Rowan, Carter, Boyd and Elliott counties went for Beshear.

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Precinct judge Charles Myers gave a sticker to Henry Kurth, 7, after he watched mom Gena Cooper, left, vote at Chevy Chase precinct Tuesday morning at Morton Middle School. Matt Goins Matt Goins

Franklin County, which houses the state’s capital city, boasted the highest turnout in the state, with 57 percent of its 37,964 registered voters participating, more than 61 percent of whom cast ballots for Beshear and 36 percent for Bevin. More than half of registered voters participated in Woodford, Hancock, Anderson, McLean and Metcalfe counties, according to state results.

Voter turnout in Bell County was the lowest, at 26.5 percent, followed by Fulton, Christian and Martin counties, all under 30 percent.

Few irregularities or issues were reported to the Attorney General’s vote fraud hotline on Tuesday. By 7 p.m. Tuesday night, 82 calls had been fielded by the AG’s office, primarily in Lexington and Louisville, for issues including electioneering and trouble with voting officials and machines, and even fewer for fraud and voter identification.

Seven of the calls were from Jefferson County, including one complaint of a dead person voting. A call from Kenton County reported a convicted felon voting. And there was a call from Pike County related to vote buying/selling, or bribery.

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A voter cast his ballot at the Duke precinct Tuesday morning at Morton Middle School. Matt Goins Matt Goins
Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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