Carroll Co. voters turn out in force for Election Day

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The trend this year for high voter turnout nationwide didn’t miss Carroll County.

Of the 7,210 voters registered here, The News-Democrat estimates about 4,457 voters – or about 62 percent – cast ballots at the county’s 11 precincts.*

That number includes 212 voters who cast absentee ballots, according to acting County Clerk Patti Mefford. Mefford said 112 voters came to the clerk’s office to vote on the machine, and her office gave out 102 paper ballots – 100 of those were completed and returned by the Nov. 3 deadline.

The county’s turnout appears to be in line with voter turnout statewide. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, 1.8 million registered voters in Kentucky turned out Tuesday, or 63 percent of all registered voters in the commonwealth.

Mefford said her office was expecting a high turnout, but still was surprised by the number who voted this year.

“It’s one of the biggest turnouts we’ve ever had,” Mefford said Thursday. According to the state Board of Elections, turnout in Carroll County was 31.7 percent of all registered voters in 2007, and 40.6 percent in 2006. In previous presidential elections, turnout in Carroll County was 56.5 percent in 2004 and 53.5 percent in 2000.

“We knew it would be high [this year], but it was a lot higher than we expected,” Mefford continued. “The presidential race was the main thing that brought most people out.”

The biggest upset in the county seemed to be incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s loss to Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford. Though McConnell managed to keep hs seat in the Senate, Of the 3,769 total votes cast here in that race, Lunsford took 57.2 percent, or 2,157 votes; McConnell received only 42.7 percent, or 1,612 votes.

That’s quite a change from his last Senate race in 2002. That year, turnout was 38 percent here, with 2,535 of the county’s 6,716 registered voters going to the polls. Of those, McConnell took 1,293 of the 2,210 Carroll County votes cast in that race – 58.5 percent. He pounded Democratic challenger Lois Combs Weinberg, who only received 917 votes in Carroll County, or 41.5 percent of the total.

As has been the trend in the past several elections, Republicans ruled the remaining top races this year. John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin took 53 percent (2,032) of the 3,835 votes cast in Carroll County. Barack Obama and Joe Biden came in at 44.7 percent, with 1,716 votes. Independent Ralph Nader, a perennial candidate, garnered 60 total votes, or 1.6 percent of the total. A total of 27 votes went to the Constitution and Libertarian Party candidates – eight to Chuck Baldwin and 19 to Bob Barr – representing just 0.9 percent of the total.  

Though nearly 84 percent of the county’s voters are registered Democrat, the county is known for going “red” in past elections. For instance, in 2004, Republican George W. Bush received 55.8 percent (2,175) of the total 3,897 votes cast here in that race; Democrat John Kerry received 43.3 percent (1,688).

Apparently, things haven’t changed much, as the 2004 numbers closely reflect this year’s percentages.

That said, it still was a very tight race for incumbent U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican, who took 1,880 (51.8 percent) of the total 3,623 votes cast in that race. His Democratic challenger, Michael Kelley, garnered 1,743 votes, or 48.1 percent.

Local races this year weren’t heavily contested; in fact, most candidates ran unopposed.

State Rep. Rick Rand, the Bedford Democrat who represents Kentucky’s 47th District, was unopposed and received a total of 3,214 votes. Carroll County Clerk candidate Alice Marsh also ran unopposed, and will serve out the remainder of former Clerk Marketta Brock’s term. Brock retired in August. Marsh received 3,341 votes.

Also unopposed was David Wilhoite, who was appointed to serve as Carroll County coroner in May after long-time Coroner Jimmy Dunn died of cancer. Wilhoite will serve the remainder of Dunn’s term, having received 3,372 votes.

Democrat Chris Crase won the nod from voters to serve as constable in the county’s 3rd Magisterial District, which includes four precincts in Worthville, Sanders, Ghent and the portion of Carroll County that includes parts of State Hwys. 36 East and 227, north of the Interstate. Crase won a total of 897 votes, or 66 percent of the 1,360 votes cast. Republican Forrest Poland took 34 percent, or 463 votes.

Carrollton City Council had seven candidates vying for six seats. The top vote-getters were newcomer Adam Raker, who had the most votes with 830, followed by Dean Miller Jr. with 818 votes; Mike Gordon, 809; Kevin Craig, 770; Nancy Jo Grobmyer, 729; and newcomer Tammy Miller McBurney, 688.

Businessman Bill Frederic was odd man out, with 609 votes, losing to McBurney by 79.

In Ghent, five candidates were in the running for four seats on the city commission. Top vote-getter was Lisa Barr, who previously served on the commission, with 89 votes. She was followed by incumbents Linda Taulbee, 83; Charles G. Eaves, 66; and David Hendren, 63.

Newcomer Cheryl Nohner was not elected to the board, taking just 40 votes.

The situation was similar in Prestonville, where, again, five candidates sought four seats on that city’s commission.

There, the top vote-getter was incumbent Robert “Spike” Barnes with 25 votes, followed by incumbents Wilk Hoskins with 22 and Robert Lee Dixon, 21. Former Mayor Tommy C. Couch won the fourth seat on the commission with 20 votes, edging past newcomer William Martin, who earned 17 votes.

The city commission slates in Worthville and Sanders came up short. Each commission has four seats, but in Worthville, only three candidates were on the ballot; in Sanders, only two candidates ran. That means all the candidates will serve on their respective boards, and the mayors of those cities will be called on to appoint members to fill out those commissions.

In Sanders, Harold “Ozzie” Wright took 41 votes and Bobby Abercrombie took 43 votes.

In Worthville, incumbent Janie M. Thomas took the most votes, 40, followed by Terry A. Hagedorn, 31 votes, and Sheila Laverne Rose, 28.

The Soil and Water Conservation District Board also has four seats, and three candidates were on the ballot and, therefore, will serve: James Tuttle received 2,067 votes; Bobby G. Gibson, 1, 616 votes; and Billie Hotfil, 1,538 votes. Write-in candidate Theoda Franklin also will be on the board. He received a total of 27 votes.

There were no surprises in the race for Carroll County Board of Education. None of the four incumbents were opposed in their divisions. Tommy Unker took 638 votes in Division 1; Mona Kindoll took 653 votes in Division 2; Jennifer Beach, 485 votes, Division 3; and Mary Ann Pearson, 532 votes, Division 5. Beach and Pearson both were appointed to fill vacancies on the board last year.

* Carroll County Clerk Patti Mefford said her office doesn’t yet have an official count of the number of voters who turned out on Nov. 4. That final count won’t come from the state Board of Elections until February. So, we tallied up the total number of votes for each race in each precinct; then, took the race with the highest vote count in each precinct and added them together to get 4,457 total votes cast. Mefford said this method gives a fairly accurate total. It is only an estimate, however, because not all voters who went to the polls cast votes in every race.