Studying the vote totals in search of insight

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

Elections teach us about ourselves.

The local option elections in three communities asked a simple question. In addition to answering yes by 3-to-2 margins in each town, other deeper insight is possible – or at least deeper speculation.

After the vote, many folks who I encountered remarked with surprise about the margin of victory, particularly in Vine Grove.

Because Vine Grove’s a smaller community, we often view it as quaint and perhaps parochial in its ways. Consider, however, the nature of this community.

Sitting as it has beside Fort Knox for generations, the town developed quite differently than many Kentucky communities.

In many Kentucky towns, when you met someone new the first question is “Who’s your Daddy?” Everyone assumes that you are there because you were born there.

In Vine Grove, it’s “Where are you from?”

Vine Grove residents don’t expect everyone to be from around here. It’s not a shock to find your new neighbor is from Texas, Georgia or South Dakota. It’s common to discover they just arrived from Germany or Korea or some exotic place.

In that respect, Vine Grove is very much like Radcliff. It just seems different because some downtown buildings are more than 100 years old.

New housing along Ky. 313 has brought about more change but even in the established parts of town, Vine Grove residents are a mix of lifers and newcomers and second-generation newbies.

Another reason that I found Vine Grove’s vote less surprising than other people is the limited, long-term impact it’s likely to have.

 Because the state limits package sales based on population size, the city likely will be eligible for only one or two. There already are two full-service liquor stores yards from the city limits just across the Meade County line.

Personally, I can’t imagine many folks immediately abandoning those businesses in favor of a new, unfamiliar store. Most people who have been going to Shorty’s since they were old enough to stagger will shop the same place.

In a similar way, the Vine Grove residents with post privileges likely will keep buying booze at the commissary for competitive pricing reasons.

The main change that I predict for Vine Grove is beer sales at the town’s two convenience stores and the IGA.

A greater revelation from the wet-dry voting results was one of overall apathy in all three cities.

For a topic with moral overtones regarding a subject than can result in so much personal, family and community harm, the turnout was pitiful. Let’s review the statistics: Elizabethtown voters turned out at a rate of 28.2; Vine Grove, 23.8 percent; and Radcliff, 18.5 percent.

Those percentages are based on the number of registered voters – not the voting-age population. There are few thousand others who don’t care enough to even register, which would make the numbers even more stark.

As an aside, what does the low turnout say about the influence and reach of our churches who equate drinking with sin? Just a little something to think about in Sunday School this morning.

I’ll close with this thought: If people in an America-loving, military communities won’t take a minute to vote on a single-issue, simple question regarding a controversial topic, is there any hope of ever motivating true involvement in a general election?

Of course, the fewer of you who vote, the more impact my vote has.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.