Saturday, October 23, 2004

Absentee requests increase

Ky. election officials say interest in ballots could be a record high

The Associated Press

Election 2004 page
LOUISVILLE - County clerks around the state say requests for absentee ballots are still increasing.

As of Thursday, 58,053 voters had requested absentee ballots or had already voted. Four years ago, 70,000 Kentuckians voted absentee, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office.

Clerks in several of the state's most populous counties said they expected or already had received more requests for absentee ballots than four years ago.

The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot is seven days before the election, except for medical emergencies.

Sarah Ball Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections, said interest in absentee voting is higher this year than at any other time in her 10 years with the office. "And it is spread out all over the state," she said.

A spokeswoman for Jefferson County - the most populous in the state - said that more absentee votes will be cast there this year than in the 2000 election if voters use all the distributed ballots.

There had been 5,853 paper absentee ballots requested and 2,778 returned, said Paula McCraney, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Clerk. In 2000, there were 5,286 absentee ballots cast, she said.

"Each presidential election is one that generates a lot of interest, but this one perhaps is most visible because of the war" in Iraq, McCraney said.

Christian County Clerk Mike Kem said his office had mailed 735 absentee ballots through Wednesday, compared with 851 in 2000. Kem said 435 of the absentee ballots were for military personnel, some from nearby Fort Campbell.

Warren County had received 651 ballots through Wednesday, compared with 549 in 2000, Deputy County Clerk Donna Lewis said.

In Fayette County, 2,159 absentee ballots had been mailed as of Wednesday, compared with 1,981 for the 2000 general election, said Kitty Ware, election coordinator.

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