FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting a 30 percent voter turnout in next week’s primary election, the highest since the 2010 primary.
"Next Tuesday, I think you will see a Kentucky electorate that is beginning to get up, get out, and get loud with voters making their voices heard at the polls," said Grimes. "We have witnessed dismal levels of participation in the last few years – 20 percent in 2016, a presidential election, and only 12 percent in the last Governor's race in 2015. This year, I think we could see the number of Kentuckians going to the polls improving."
Grimes says she tracks absentee ballot totals as an indicator of the election day turnout. According to current numbers, Grimes projects turnout for the May 22 Primary Election will be about par with the midterm elections of 2014 and 2010 when 26.8 percent and 32.2 percent of Kentuckians voted, respectively.
As of Monday, nearly 25,000 voters had voted in person on machines in county clerks’ offices and approximately 12,000 mail-in absentee ballots were sent to voters who had requested them.
The turnout predictions vary, according to a check with several county clerks’ offices.
Jefferson County, Kentucky’s largest, has 591,443 registered voters. But spokesman Nore Ghibaudy says they are only expecting a small fraction, “Somewhere in the 18 to 20 percent range.”
Paula Merriman of the Fayette County Clerk’s office is predicting a little better turnout. “In 2010 we had 28 percent, while in 2014 it was 22 percent. We expect it be in that 22 to 28 percent range next Tuesday.”
One factor that could lead to a higher total in Lexington is the number of absentee ballots that have been cast. “We’ve mailed out 700 this year, compared to 385 in 2014,” said Merriman. “We’ve also had 800 people cast their absentee ballots in person so far, when there were 586 four years ago.”
Knox County, which saw 37 percent turnout in 2010, but just over 11 percent of the registered voters went to the polls in the 2016 primary, is expecting a much higher turnout next week, according to County Clerk Mike Corey.
“We could see up to 46 percent of the voters, especially for the Republican primary. Democrats could pull that number down somewhat,” Corey said.
He says the biggest draw will be for Knox County Judge-Executive, Jailer and County Clerk, but there are others as well. “In Magisterial Districts 1 and 2 we have eight Republicans running in each, while there is just one Democrat.”
In western Kentucky, McCracken County Clerk Julie Griggs says absentee voting is slow, leading her to predict a 20 percent turnout. The reason, “Several offices are unopposed, although we do have a hot race for Jailer and the County Commission.”
An unusual situation is in Christian County, where Melinda Humphries in the County Clerk’s office says they are only expecting 18-20 percent turnout.
“Twelve-thousand of our nearly 52,000 registered voters are Fort Campbell soldiers,” she said, “They don’t usually turn out for local races, although their interest is much higher during national elections. As an example, in 2010, one Fort Campbell precinct with 4,100 registered voters, only had 13 cast their ballots.”
In Franklin County, traditionally one of the higher voting counties, they are not expecting a huge turnout. “We’re currently estimating about 35 to 40 percent of the voters will go to the polls,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Jack Kennedy.
To see a sample ballot, polling locations, check your registration status and other election-related information, you can log on to gokyvote.com.