Meager 12.5 percent turnout expected for Tuesday’s primary

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

FRANKFORT (KT) — Another abysmal voter turnout is being predicted for Kentucky’s primary election Tuesday, according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Only 12.5 percent of the 3,421,796 Kentuckians registered to vote will head to the polls, Grimes said on Thursday.

“Based on historical data and current absentee voting patterns, it appears the turnout in this year’s primary election will be consistent with the past primary elections,” she said. “It is not OK that a small portion of Kentuckians will vote to elect the Commonwealth’s next constitutional officers.”

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Those races on the ballot include the Governor/Lt. Governor slate, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture, all of whom are seeking four-year terms.

Grimes tracks absentee ballot totals as an indicator of final turnout on Election Day. According to current statistics, Grimes projects turnout for the May 21 primary election will be in the range of the 2015 primary for constitutional officers, when about 12.57 percent of 3.1 million registered Kentuckians voted.

This is part of an ongoing trend of many more Kentuckians staying away from the polling places during the years of Gubernatorial primary elections. In 2011, the turnout was 10.4 percent, in 2007 it reached 20.2 percent, while in 2003, it was 17 percent. Since 1986, the worst turnout was in 1999, when only 6.4 percent of registered voters took part.

“It’s not OK that more than half of our voters choose not to participate. Prove my prediction wrong, choose to show up to vote on Tuesday,” said Grimes.

One new wrinkle for many voters will be the E-poll books to streamline the signing-in process by replacing the cumbersome registration books kept at every precinct. While seven counties used them during a 2018 pilot program, 103 counties will use them on at least a partial basis during the primary.

A scanner reads the voter’s driver’s license or state ID card and quickly verifies their registration. Other forms of identification will still have to be presented to poll workers.

The number of voters who have signed in, although not their identity, can be accessed by county or state election officials through a secure Wi-Fi connection, according to representatives from Tenex Software Solutions, the company that supplies the system to Kentucky and 15 other states.

The winners of Tuesday’s primary will face off in the general election on Nov. 5.