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Allen County votes to go 'wet' during 2023 primary elections

Kevin Willis

Allen County will become “wet” after voters decided to allow the sale of alcohol in the historically dry county. 57% of voters in Tuesday's primary election were in favor of allowing alcohol sales in the county.

The county saw a high voter turnout as the debate in the community over the alcohol sale heated up close to the primary election. Over 35% of Allen County residents turned out to vote in the primary election, much higher than the overall statewide turnout rate of a little more than 14%.

Sarah Constant, the County Clerk in Allen, said local voter turnout was high this year due to the addition of the alcohol vote.

"In Allen County, we had a 35 percent turnout,” Constant said. “That was strictly a high turned out because of the local, option question on the ballet. Normally in the governor's election, it's a fairly low turnout, but because we had the local, option question that brought several more voters out.”

A similar measure was added to ballots in 2017, but failed to pass, making this the first time in over 100 years that alcohol will be available for purchase in Allen County.

Allen was one of six counties that took up measures related to alcohol sales in Tuesday’s primary election. Casey, Madison, Garrard, Henderson and Taylor counties also took up ballot measures, surrounding alcohol sales.

With alcohol being a major boon for the state’s economy, the appeal of alcohol sales is enticing for some counties in the Commonwealth. Kentucky's signature bourbon industry generates billions in revenue and thousands of jobs in Kentucky.

Allen County will have 60 days to begin the process of appointing an Alcohol Beverage Control board that will oversee the approval of alcohol licenses for local businesses.

According to Constant, a board and commissioner will need to be put in place before local businesses can apply for alcohol licenses.

“The Allen County Board of Election certified our vote totals (last night), so you have 60 days from the day that the vote totals are certified to even apply for a license through the ABC,” Constant said.

Jacob Martin is a Reporter at WKU Public Radio. He joined the newsroom from Kansas City, where he covered the city’s underserved communities and general assignments at NPR member station, KCUR. A Louisville native, he spent seven years living in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Kentucky. Email him at