Are you registered?

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By James Roberts

Those wishing to help decide the next president or whether to allow Campbellsville restaurants to serve alcohol have only two more days to register to vote in the May Primary.

Voter registration books will be closed at 4:30 on Monday. Those who haven't registered to vote must do so at Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney's office by Monday. Registration cards that are mailed in must be postmarked no later than April 21.

The deadline also applies to those who have moved since the last election but yet haven't filed their new address. Carney also reminds residents who will be 18 years old before the General Election on Nov. 4 that they can vote in the May Primary if they register by the Monday deadline.

"You can vote as a 17-year-old in the Primary as long as you turn 18 before the General Election."

As of March 17, there were 16,790 registered voters in Taylor County. The majority, 8,290, are Democrats. The Republican Party boasts 7,796 Taylor Countians, while 704 are registered as "other."

While the last Presidential Primary attracted only 10 percent of the County's voters, Carney said, this year should see more voters showing up at the polls due to the alcohol question.

In March, petitioners turned in 951 signatures to Carney in support of allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales at restaurants. Of those, 677 signatures were validated; 143 signatures belonged to residents who are not registered to vote; 111 didn't live inside the City limits; and 20 people signed the petition twice. To have the question on the ballot, 559 signatures were needed.

The question will appear on the ballot as: "Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink in Campbellsville, Kentucky at restaurants and dining facilities with a seating capacity of at least fifty persons and which derive at least seventy percent of their gross receipts from the sale of food?"

Only those who are registered to vote within the City limits can vote on the question.

Voters registered as Independent can only vote on the alcohol question.

About 30 people registered to vote as a result of the alcohol issue, Carney said.

Another sign that this Presidential Primary will attract more voters is that Carney has already received 70 requests for paper ballots. He received only 10 paper ballot requests for the 2004 Primary.

The deadline to request a paper absentee ballot is May 13. Regardless of whether a request is made in person or by mail, Carney said, the request must be in the Clerk's office by the deadline. A postmark of May 13 will not suffice unless the request is also delivered to the Clerk's office on May 13.

Those who can vote by paper ballot include people of advanced age or with disability or illness; military personnel confined to a military base on election day; a student who temporarily lives outside the county; a voter who temporarily lives outside of Kentucky, such as a vacationer; someone who is incarcerated but not yet convicted; and someone whose employment takes them out of the county all hours the polling place is open.

Those eligible to vote by absentee machine can do so at the County Clerk's office beginning April 22.

Those who can vote absentee on the machine include students who temporarily live outside the county, military personnel and their dependents, U.S. citizens living overseas, a voter having surgery that will require hospitalization on election day and their spouse, precinct election officers serving in a precinct other than that in which they are registered, members of the county or state boards of elections, deputy county clerks and women in their last trimester of pregnancy.

With the exception of military personnel confined to a base within the county and those hospitalized, all absentee voters must be outside of the county on Election Day.

What's on the ballot

Aside from the alcohol question, which voters in Campbellsville will get to consider, there will be little local flavor on the ballot on May 20.

Though all 12 Campbellsville City Council seats are up for grabs this year, the race did not make it to the Primary.

In order for the City Council races to appear on the Primary ballot, a total of 25 candidates must have filed. Only 12 did so this year.

All but one of the current City Council members filed for re-election. Terry Keltner, Stan McKinney, Randy Herron, Vangie Ford, Patti Phillips, James E. Ewing, Paul Harmon, Richard Jeter, David Nunery and Sue Smith all filed for re-election. Frances Clinkscales had also filed for re-election, however, she died in February.

Former Councilman W.M. "Mike" Hall Jr. has also filed. Hall served one term on the Council before launching an unsuccessful bid for County Attorney in 2006.

Current Councilman Doug Mullins had filed for re-election but withdrew and filed to run in Taylor County's only other local race - 51st District State Representative.

The 12th seat will be filled by a write-in candidate when the race makes it to the ballot in November. Write-in candidates have until Oct. 24 to file at Carney's office. Sharon Hoskins, appointed to fill Clinkscales' seat, said she will file as a write-in.

On the State Representative Primary ticket, John "Bam" Carney, Russell Montgomery and Asa James Swan make up the Republican race. The Primary winner will advance to the General Election, where he will face Mullins as the lone Democratic candidate.

Current State Rep. Russ Mobley, R-Campbellsville, is not seeking re-election.

In May, voters will also see the Presidential, U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator races on the ballot.

In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seek the Democratic nod while John McCain and Ron Paul are looking for the Republican vote.

Democrat John Edwards and Republicans Rudolph Guiliani, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have withdrawn from the race but their names will still appear on the Primary ballot in Kentucky. Republican candidate Alan Keyes also withdrew and is expected to run as the Constitution Party's presidential nominee. His name will appear with the Republican candidates on Kentucky's Primary ballot.

Voters will also have another option for president - "Uncommitted."

"This essentially means that the voter would prefer that the delegates go to the national convention uncommitted to any particular candidate and then cast their votes in line with individual conscience or as part of a move toward one candidate over another," said John Chowning, director of Campbellsville University's Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy and an adjunct professor of political science. Chowning is also vice-president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at CU.

It is believed that uncommitted delegates can be more influential in a closely contested convention "or they may be able to bargain with different candidates for certain concessions or compromises on key issues," Chowning said.

Delegates must vote based on the outcome of the state primaries on the first ballot of a presidential nominating convention, Chowning said.

"Since there have been no closely contested presidential elections in the last several decades as the role of primaries has evolved, there has not been a real test of how binding the primary outcome may be - especially should a selection process go beyond the first ballot at the national convention," Chowning said. "Basically, those supposedly bound delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose should a presidential nominating convention go beyond the first ballot."

On the U.S. Senator's ticket, Republicans Mitch McConnell, the incumbent, and Daniel Essek and Democrats Michael Cassaro, David L. Williams, Kenneth Stepp, Andrew Horne, Greg Fischer, James E. Rice, Bruce Lunsford and David Wylie have filed.

In the 2nd District U.S. Representative's race, Democrats David E. Boswell and Reid Haire will face off. S. Brett Guthrie is the lone Republican candidate. Republicans Daniel London and incumbent Ron Lewis have withdrawn.

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.