Turnout for May primary difficult to project, county clerk says

Despite a pension crisis, a state budget set to expire in 2020 and a record number of Kentucky residents registered to vote, the Warren County clerk is unsure what to expect in regard to turnout for Tuesday’s primary election.

In a word, Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates said she is “perplexed.”

“We want it to be a big turnout, and it’s important that it is,” Yates said. “But we’re just not seeing or hearing anything in the county.”

Yates’ uncertainty stems from a “very low” number of absentee voters so far.

Absentee voting at the county clerk’s office, conducted in-person during regular business hours, ends Monday. Mail-in absentee ballot requests had to be submitted by May 14, but all types of voters have been hard to forecast. Yates said that even though the primary is quickly approaching, she did not see signs or other campaign materials around Bowling Green until very recently.

“We’re a week away, and I just saw my first sign,” Yates said earlier this week. “You would like to see more around town, but we’re not seeing community engagement.”

According to statistics from the Kentucky State Board of Elections, there are 81,950 registered voters in Warren County, an increase of 1,361 from the 2018 May primary, when 80,589 people were registered.

Warren County election clerk Mallye Schultz reported the total number of voters registered has also risen significantly since the last gubernatorial primary election in 2015. The total number of voters registered at that time was 75,601 – almost 6,350 fewer than this year.

But how many of the nearly 82,000 registered voters will come to the polls Election Day is a different matter entirely. Yates said she expects to see state employees, who have “more at stake” this election cycle, in particular.

“I couldn’t tell you either way,” Yates said. “But I feel like given what’s at stake with pensions, state employees should be invested.”

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