Wednesday, May 21, 2003

10% turn out for primary races

Voter apathy rampant at N.Ky. polling spots

By Patrick Crowley and Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Northern Kentucky voter turnout for Tuesday's statewide primary was as dismal as the afternoon's rainy weather.

Only about 10 percent of registered voters in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties came out to cast ballots on a statewide ballot that included Democrat and Republican candidates for governor and six other constitutional offices.

"We ended up with 9.9 percent. The apathy is just terrible," said Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass. "People just don't care if it's not in their own back yard. Hopefully, November will be better."

Boone County Clerk Marilyn Rouse blamed a popular villain for keeping voters at home - the weather, which turned rainy early in the afternoon. "Weather is always a factor," she said.

Turnout was about 10 percent in both Boone and Kenton counties.

Kenton County Clerk Bill Aylor, a 31-year veteran of counting Election Day ballots, was at a loss to explain the low turnout.

"I don't think it's the weather, it didn't start raining until two o'clock or so," Aylor said. "I really don't know what it is. Candidates spend money. They campaign. The voters just don't respond."

By mid-day Tuesday, Fort Thomas poll worker Paul DeVoto had seen only 43 of 678 registered voters at the polling place in St. Thomas School. "When we had the special election (on the school tax issue) in March, we had 43 people in the first hour," DeVoto said.

At the Kenton County Courthouse in Independence, only 40 of 1,436 registered voters had cast their ballots by 2 p.m. Veteran poll worker Tom Crout described Tuesday's turnout as the second worst since 1964.

"We had a special election that wasn't this bad," said 13-year poll worker Jeanie Winans.

At the Florence Christian Church, poll workers had seen only a 5 percent turnout by mid-afternoon, according to veteran poll worker Marilyn Foltz.

"It's pathetic," said Doris Riley, who was working the polls at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Covington, where only 2 percent of voters had turned out about mid-way through the day. "This turnout is the lowest I've ever seen."

Enquirer reporter Brenna Kelly and contributor Bill Croyle contributed.

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