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Election turnout steady, lower than 2008

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Turnout fails to reach 60 percent

By Amber Coulter

Precincts throughout the county saw steady lines all day but saw fewer voters Tuesday than in the 2008 general election.

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Of the 70,066 registered voters in the county, 39,575 cast ballots for a voter turnout percentage of 56.48.

Hardin County Clerk Kenny Tabb thought the turnout would be higher, closer to 65 percent turnout.

“We’ve had a pretty good day, overall,” he said.

The 2008 election saw 40,456 votes and a 62.8 percent.

The election went smoothly in most respects, Tabb said.

One machine in the Radcliff north precinct broke down and had to be replaced. That slowed the line, but the machine’s cartridge could be read and no votes were lost, he said.

“When you have 114 machines, you’re going to have a malfunction or two,” he said.

The six phones at the clerk’s office rang all day with voters who went to the wrong precinct. That mostly came from people who seldom vote and didn’t know their polling places had changed, Tabb said.

The information was published on the county clerk’s website and in The News-Enterprise, he said.

Retired U.S. Air Force veteran James Tharpe said he voted because the action is important.

“It’s just part of freedom,” he said.

Tharpe said his time in the military made it especially apparent to him how important voting is.

Tharpe took a cab to cast his ballot at the Pine Valley precinct at John Hardin High School on W.A. Jenkins Road. It was the third trip the driver had made that day delivering voters to their polling stations.

Connie Fischer, a judge for that precinct, said at 3 p.m. the stream of voters at the precinct had been steady all day, with more than 1,000 voters arriving by then.

The high turnout was similar to what Fischer saw working polls during the 2008 presidential election.

“There have been many times that we didn’t have a moment to breathe, there were so many people here,” she said.

It is typical to see an increase in voter turnout during presidential elections, Fischer said

“I like to see people come out and vote, absolutely,” she said. “Unfortunately, in the other elections, we’re sitting here twiddling our thumbs.”

Casting a ballot is important because people who don’t vote shouldn’t complain and Americans have fought for the right, Fischer said.

Steve Gerber said defending the right to vote is a major reason that he is in uniform.

“That’s pretty much what the military stands for, is having freedom to vote,” he said.

The number of people who take advantage of the right is important, especially after going to countries where citizens don’t have the right to vote, Gerber said.

“The more people turn out, the more I feel like we have an honest vote,” he said.

Gerber cast his vote at the Radcliff West precinct at the Colvin Community Center.

Mary D. Tindall, a judge for the precinct, said several hundred of the precinct’s voters had turned out by 3:30 p.m.

“I think people just want to come out, and they want their voice to be heard this time,” she said. “They’re not going to be complacent and complain about who got in afterward or who didn’t get in.”

There were even more voters than Tindall saw during the previous presidential election.

Having a high turnout makes her feel good about her volunteering.

“It makes my day,” she said. “It makes it worth it.”

Linda Stogner, a clerk for the Vine Grove south precinct at St. Brigid Catholic Church on East Main Street, also said the turnout was higher than she had ever seen it. About 730 of the precinct’s voters had cast their ballots by 2:30 p.m.

People were waiting in line outside the polling place before it opened at 6 a.m., so volunteers worked fast to get them inside, she said.

Linda Cecil, who worked at the precinct for Glendale at Glendale Christian Church on North Main Street said there were about 40 people lined up outside the building before it opened.

More than 42 percent of the precinct’s estimated 1,200 voters had cast their ballots by 12:30 p.m.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.