In what is being described as a record turnout for Whitley County, nearly 55 percent of eligible voters went to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots for president, senator, a constitutional amendment, school board, and various city offices.
Whitley County Clerk Tom Rains said he was thrilled with the turnout, and the fact that Whitley County was the 10th fastest county in the state to have their totals finalized Tuesday evening.
“I am very pleased anytime we have more than a 50 percent turnout,” Rains said. “I am pleased with 55 percent, but I thought we would thought we would have 60 percent turnout, and possibly a 70 percent turnout because the phone calls we had received about where people needed to vote.
“This election went very well because of our great election officers. They all did a tremendous job. They all showed up on time, and early this morning, and did a tremendous job in getting the totals in tonight.
A total of 13,624 voters went to the polls Tuesday compared to 11,774 Whitley County voters went to the polls four years ago when Bush squared off against then Vice-President Al Gore in for a 54 percent turnout.
While voter turnout is usually highest in the late afternoon when people got off work, Rains said this wasn’t the case this year.
“I don’t know why, but it seems like the turnout got slow,” Rains said. “We didn’t have any lines hardly at all at 6 p.m., which is very strange.”
Rains said he thinks television projections about the winners might have prompted people into not voting at the late hour.
“Usually, we vote heavy in the last hour from 5 – 6 with working people voting. Evidently, they turned out early today,” he added.
Republican President George W. Bush overwhelmingly carried Whitley County with 9,559 votes to Democrat Senator John Kerry’s 3,985 votes.
Running as an independent, Ralph Nader snatched up 55 votes, and candidates on the Constitution Party and Libertarian Party ballots received a combined 30 votes along with seven write-in votes.
By on overwhelming margin, 11,134 to 1,535, Whitley County voters said yes to a constitutional amendment, which prohibits gay marriage or civil unions in Kentucky.
“The constitutional amendment pushed people out to vote there is no question about it. It helped the percentage of turnout in Whitley County,” Rains noted.
Incumbent Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s campaign rally in Williamsburg last week apparently paid off as he garnered 8,082 votes to Democrat Daniel Mongiardo’s 4,620 votes. Mongiardo held a campaign rally in Corbin Monday afternoon.
The only other contested race on all ballots countywide saw Roderick Messer receiving 5,232 votes to Michael L. Henry’s 3,555 votes in the race for an unexpired term on the state court of appeals.
In uncontested races, Hal Rogers received 10,185 votes in Whitley County to earn another term as Fifth District Congressman.
Charlie Siler got 9,553 votes to win another term as the 82nd District State Representative. Siler served as state representative from 1985 through 1990, and again from 1995 through the present.
In the race for the Whitley County Board of Education all three incumbents were unchallenged.
Third District Board Member Bobby Terrell received 1,098 voters, and Fourth District Board Member Dallas Sawyers got 673 votes to win second terms in office. Longtime Fifth District Board Member J.E. Jones received 790 votes.
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