MURRAY — The polling places for the November general election in Calloway County have been determined and it is going to give voters a different situation than what existed in the June primary.
Where the county had only one polling place available on the actual day of the primary, June 23, the Nov. 3 event will have more than that. In the monthly meeting of the Calloway County Board of Elections on Friday, Calloway County Clerk Antonia Faulkner said that four locations will be available for voters to use on that day.
All of them are education-related facilities. The CFSB Center at Murray State University will be one such spot and it was the lone polling place on June 23 as the county was relegated to one location by the state. The main indoor events facility for that campus will be joined on Nov. 3 by Southwest Calloway Elementary School, North Calloway Elementary School and East Calloway Elementary School.
The Miller Courthouse Annex in downtown Murray will return to its role as the in-person absentee voting precinct for the county.
“We wanted to open it up a little more,” Faulkner said of the setup. “If you’re in and around (Murray), CFSB will be more central for those voters. If you’re from (Kentucky Lake), you can go to East, if you’re on the south side of the county, there’s Southwest and for the folks from the north, there’s North Elementary. What we were looking for was a stopping point for people out in the county before they got into the traffic, so we tried to streamline it as much as we could.”
This perhaps puts into the play the idea that a setup like this could become permanent. Faulkner said that is a possibility, but she also believes this issue would be pushed by state officials.
“I think each county clerk and fiscal court will be looking at that,” Faulkner said, adding that while she does not have a dollar figure immediately available, she did acknowledge that the county government did save a “good number” in dollars when it only had one precinct in operation on June 23. This came a few years after the Board of Elections trimmed the number of precincts under its control from 29 to 23.
“You also have to remember that (Calloway only having the CFSB Center available in June) was because of an executive order (of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear), but I’m convinced that this will have to be addressed over time. You look at 2021 and unless we have some sort of special election, that’s going to be an off year for elections. That gives county boards time to discuss that and the state to perhaps take a deep breath to address those possible changes.”
If June is any indication, absentee voting will be the way the majority of Calloway County’s citizens cast their ballots. Faulkner said the primary resulted in something she could not remember happening with absentee votes not only outnumbering votes cast in person on election day, but it was by a very wide margin.
“We had 4,694 by mail-in and 1,366 by walk-in for absentee. Then, we had 1,424 on the actual election day,” she said. “So we had 7,400-or-so votes, which is kind of regular for us (a little more than 24%), but it was reversed from what we’ve had.
“I think it encouraged us that change can be made and that definitely county clerk’s offices and voters can make those changes and get them done in the right amount of time and get them taken care of.”
Faulkner said absentee voting is probably going to be strong again in November in the county. She said that when the absentee portal, formed by a joint plan crafted by Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams, opened for voters to apply for absentee applications the previous week, Calloway County voters began flocking to it.
“We had what I guess you could call a soft opening on Aug. 21, and that was light. We came into the office after that first weekend on the following Monday and we had 555,” she said, adding that absentee voting will begin Oct. 13 at the Miller Courthouse Annex.
She said hours will be the same as in June, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through Nov. 2. However, new to the plan will be three Saturday sessions, which she said will be from 8 a.m. to noon.