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Daviess County Clerk expects relatively low voter turnout despite closely watched governor’s race

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Kentucky voters will soon choose the next secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, treasurer, auditor, and attorney general.

The gubernatorial race features incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshearagainst Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, the state’s current attorney general.

However, despite being a closely watched race from a national perspective, some Kentuckians in the northwest part of the state don’t seem to be in a rush to cast their votes.

Daviess County Clerk Leslie McCarty told WKU Public Radio that things have been quiet at her office, and that she hasn’t seen an abundance of political yard signs either.

“You probably wouldn’t know there was a race if it wasn’t for all the commercials,” she said.

McCarty noted that 1,332 absentee ballots were requested in her county, and as of Tuesday, 747 had been returned to the Clerk’s Office. She added that the numbers are significantly lower than those in 2020, in which over 15,000 absentee ballots were requested.

One factor in the difference is that 2020 was a presidential election year, when voter interest in traditionally much higher.

“We’re still having a low turnout in voting, and, just like most counties, we have a high number of registered voters; people just aren’t voting, and I don’t know if that’s because people don’t like who’s running or if they’re just so pessimistic," McCarty said.

While absentee ballot numbers remain low, there is a possibility that more voters will head to the polls in person this week as early voting gets underway.

Daviess County currently utilizes vote centers as opposed to precincts, which McCarty said has streamlined the voting process.

“I think it’s definitely helped voters. They’re able to vote wherever they like,” she said. “They don’t have to remember what precinct they’re in, so I think it gives them more freedom to vote. It’s definitely more convenient.”

Additionally, she stated that the shift to voting centers in recent years has also helped her office do their jobs.

“When we had 56 precincts with probably 40 plus locations, because sometimes you can put two or three precincts in a location, staff would drive through the county all day long and check on places, and now staff are managing one place, so it’s a lot easier to troubleshoot.”

However, even with the overall convenience of vote centers, the county clerk said she still expects low voter turnout and encourages everyone to get out and vote.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” she said. “Please get out and vote. People paid a dear price for you to exercise your right to vote, so if you don’t do that, I don’t think you're honoring them.”

Early voting begins Thursday, Nov. 2, and runs through Saturday, Nov. 4. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

For polling locations and times, visit govote.ky.gov.

Jake Foster was born and raised in southern Indiana and earned his degree in radio and television broadcasting from Vincennes University in 2019. He began his professional career as a part-time soundboard operator for WAMW, where he later became a full-time news anchor and morning show sidekick. He then moved to Clarksville, TN, covering government and business news before joining WKU Public Radio.

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