Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 26, 2012

Absentee voting strong in the area

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — With just over a week to go until Election Day, voters across the region who won’t be able to get to the polls on Nov. 6 are casting their ballots by the hundreds.

Walk-in absentee voting is also available at county clerks’ offices across the state through Nov. 5.

Tuesday is the deadline to apply for a paper absentee ballot in Kentucky to ensure a ballot arrives at a voter’s home in time for it to be returned to a clerk’s office by 6 p.m. on election night. By Kentucky law, a voting machine at the clerk’s office is available 12 or more working days before an election for voters who are qualified to cast a machine absentee ballot.

“It’s been really busy,” said Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones, noting there has been a steady stream of voters who will be out of the county on Nov. 6 casting absentee ballots in her office.

“It is busy,” echoed Greenup County Clerk Pat Hieneman and Lawrence County Clerk Chris Jobe, describing the situation in their counties.

While the numbers of walk-in absentee voters are brisk, they are not as high as some officials expected heading into the homestretch.

 “We’re down, but we still have time to go,” Jones said, noting in the 2008 presidential election her office processed just under 1,700 absentee ballots. To date, 1,100  Boyd voters have voted already or requested paper ballots through the mail.

Both Jobe and Hieneman, like Jones, were expecting a higher volume of absentee voters.

“In the beginning, I thought it would be overwhelming. There was such an early interest, but we are not up to where we were in 2008 yet,” said Hieneman. To date, 314 voters in Greenup have cast absentee ballots, and 256 paper ballots have been mailed out. Four years ago, there were 1,000.

Numbers were down in Lawrence County, too. The clerk’s office has received 100 paper absentee ballot requests compared to 148 in 2008.

“There could be a surge,” Jobe said. “I anticipate a big turnout, so we may see a surge in absentee ballots, too.”

In Carter County, Deputy Clerk Coleena Elam said absentee voting is up.

“They are coming in good,” she said, although she couldn’t give specific numbers on Thursday. “We knew there would be more interest in this election.”

Registered voters may cast mail-in absentee ballots if they are advanced in age; disabled or ill; a student who temporarily resides outside the county; incarcerated but not convicted of a crime; employed outside of the county during the hours a polling place is open; or reside outside Kentucky but maintain eligibility to vote here. Military personnel, their dependents and overseas citizens are also eligible to vote by mail-in absentee ballot.

To cast an absentee ballot by machine at a county clerk’s office, a voter must be out of the county on Election Day; a military member, their dependent, or an overseas citizen; military personnel confined to a base who learns of the confinement within seven days or fewer of an election; a student or resident who temporarily resides outside the county; a voter or the spouse of a voter who has a surgery schedule that will require hospitalization on Election Day; a pregnant woman in her third trimester; a precinct officer appointed to serve in a precinct other than his or her own; an alternate precinct officer; staffer or member of the county board of elections; deputy county clerk; or a member of the state board of elections’ staff.

For more information about eligibility, call a local county clerk’s office.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.