With the election less than a week away, nearly half as many people in Letcher County have already voted as the total who voted in 2016.
As of mid-day Tuesday, 4,222 people had cast their ballot either by paper absentee, or at early voting sites at the Letcher County Recreation Center and the Letcher County Clerk’s office, Clerk Winston Meade said.
A total of 9,273 voted in the 2016 General Election, a 55 percent turnout.
The number has already surpassed the total that voted in the primary, when just 3,683 people cast their ballots here.
“We still vote till 12 o’clock Saturday at the rec center, and we’ve got from 8 to 4:30 on Monday at the office,” Meade said.
Election Day is Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted as long at they arrive by Nov. 6. Meade said of about 2,000 absentee ballots requested, fewer than 200 were left to be returned.
While there have been statements made by militant groups in other places that they plan to “guard” polling places, Meade said he has heard nothing about that kind of activity here, and said it would be illegal anyway. No one, armed or unarmed, is allowed to stand outside the polls in Kentucky. It is considered voter interference if they do.
“They are not allowed to interfere in any way. If we get somebody standing outside of one, we’ll call the police and have them removed,” Meade said.
He said no one has registered as a poll watcher either, which is required for anyone to enter the polls and challenge any voter.
While the presidential race is the most visible race on the ballot, voters inside two of the cities in Letcher County will have an almost invisible race to vote in. No one filed to run for the Fleming-Neon City Council, and only one councilman filed for reelection in Whitesburg. As a result, all of those races are write-ins.
In Kentucky, write-in candidates must also file with the clerk’s office, so voters may write in the names only of candidates who filed.
In Neon, voters will choose six candidates from a field that includes six registered candidates: Linda Cantrell, Kenneth Holbrook II, Susie Fleming, Ricky Fleming, Tara Whitt Ritchie, and James D. Collins. All except Ritchie are incumbents.
In Whitesburg, Derek Barto is the only sitting councilman who filed for reelection before the deadline.
His name is on the ballot, but the remainder of the candidates are write-ins.
Voters choose up to six write-in candidates from the following list : John Pelegrini, Sheila Shortt, Erlene Williams, Debbie Bates Eldridge, Larry Everidge, Mike Jackson, Roger Clay Collins, and Oakley Fugate. Eldridge, Collins and Fugate are not on the council now.
There are no write-in candidates in Jenkins. Voters will chose up to six candidates from the six that appear on the ballot. The six whose names are on the ballot are: Ernestine Hill, Sammy Elswick, Rick Damron, Chuck Anderson, Garnett Bentley and Lewis Shaun Collier.