FRANKFORT — Voter turnout in Kentucky for the Nov. 8 general election is expected to be 25 percent to 28 percent, Secretary of State Elaine Walker said Monday.
That would be considerably less than the 37.8 percent of Kentucky voters who cast ballots in 2007 during the last gubernatorial election.
Still, Walker said she did not think this year's turnout would be lower than the 22.4 percent in the 1999 race for governor. That's when Democratic incumbent Paul Patton defeated little-known Republican Peppy Martin.
Walker based her turnout projection for this year's election on a 75 percent decrease in requests for absentee ballots.
She said more than 9,500 absentee ballots have been requested, and about 3,800 have been returned. At this time in 2007, Walker said, the state had more than 37,000 requests for absentee ballots or votes by absentee.
She said the current absentee figures are "very troubling" and noted that the deadline to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot is Nov. 1. She added that a voter may go to his or her county clerk's office before the election and cast an absentee vote.
There appears to be less interest in this year's races for state constitutional offices than in previous years, Walker said.
"If voters are not upset about the way things are going in the state, then there is less anger and less reason that they are going to the polls," she said.
Another reason for the low turnout projection, Walker said, is probable voter apathy after big U.S. Senate races in Kentucky in 2008 and 2010.
"I also am not sure everybody is aware that there is an election going on," she said.
Walker also reported that 26,776 people have registered to vote since May's primary election, bringing the total number of eligible voters to 2,944,603. That amounts to an increase of a little less than 1 percent, she said.
Of those registered to vote, 1,639,005 are Democrats, 1,100,930 are Republicans and 204,668 are registered as something else.
Since the May primary, Republican registration has increased by 15,948, or 1.4 percent. The number of Democrats has increased by 5,717, or 0.3 percent.
Walker said the increase in voter registration probably reflected interest in next year's presidential race and strong efforts by county clerks to register voters.
Walker said her office was working with Attorney General Jack Conway to combat voter fraud.
A toll-free hot line to report voter fraud will be open Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., she said. The number is 1-800-328-8683.