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More Taylor Countians are registered to vote than ever before, but time is running out for those who have yet to do so.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 General Election is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6. Registration cards that are mailed in must have a postmark no later than Oct. 6.
As of Thursday, 17,043 Taylor Countians were registered to vote, a local record, according to Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney.
"That is the most we've had," Carney said. "It's never passed the 17,000 mark."
Of those already registered, 8,394 are Democrats, 7,926 are Republicans and 723 are "Other."
Before the Primary Election in May, there were 16,894 registered voters in Taylor County - 8,331 Democrats, 7,859 Republicans and 704 registered as "Other."
To register to vote, one simply has to fill out an application and be at least 18 years old before Election Day, Carney said.
Carney said the deadline is also a good time to remind voters who've moved to another precinct to update their address.
"If you don't change your address by Oct. 6, you can still vote in your new precinct, but you will have to sign an oath of voter card."
Those who report their address change to the Clerk's office by Oct. 6 will be listed in the correct precinct books on Election Day.
The deadline to file as a write-in candidate is also approaching. Oct. 24 is the deadline for those candidates.
So far, a handful of candidates have filed as write-ins.
While the deadline to file to run in the City Council race expired in January, with only 11 candidates seeking 12 seats, a write-in candidate will fill one of those seats. So far, two people have filed as write-ins - Sharon Hoskins and David Harris.
All of the City Council incumbents had filed by the earlier deadline except for Doug Mullins, who was running in the State Representative's race as a Democrat before dropping out due to health issues. Former City Councilman Mike Hall Jr. also filed before the deadline. Frances Clinkscales had filed before her death in February, but her name will not appear on the ballot, Carney said.
Three people - Byron Sanders, Todd Sullivan and William "Bill" Newcomb - have filed as write-ins in the 4th District magistrate's race between Democrat Kenneth Minor and Republican Matt Pendleton. Minor was appointed to the seat by Gov. Steve Beshear in April to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Marshall Caulk.
Carney said there is a possibility of write-ins filing for the uncontested City and County School Board races.
On the County School Board ticket, Districts 2, 3 and 4 are up for election. Only incumbents Jim Cheatham, Tony Davis and Lillian Clark have filed for election.
On the City School Board ticket, the seats held by Barkley Taylor and Joe Walters are up for grabs. Only Taylor and Chris Brunelle have filed. Joyce Adkinson had filed but has withdrawn.
On Oct. 7, absentee voting by machine will begin in Taylor County.
Those who can vote absentee on the machine include a student who temporarily lives outside the county, military personnel and their dependents, U.S. citizens residing 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.
Those eligible will fill out an application and vote the same day, Carney said.
During the last presidential election, 450 people voted on the absentee machine.
Voters have until Oct. 28 to apply for a paper absentee ballot.
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.
Carney's office has received 115 applications so far, he said, and he expects the total to be on par with the 330 people who voted by paper absentee ballot during the last presidential election.
October also marks the beginning of Carney's educational campaign concerning the new paper ballot voting system that will be used for the first time in November.
Aside from demonstrating the system at local schools, Carney will also lead training on the new machines for election officers. However, Carney invites the public to attend those sessions, which will be Oct. 13, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. in the circuit courtroom at Taylor County Courthouse.
With the new system, voters will fill in the box beside their chosen candidates' names on a paper ballot and then scan their ballot using an automatic ballot reader. Once scanned, the ballot drops into a box, where it remains untouched for at least 10 days.
"You've got a backup there," Carney said. "It's not like you touch a button and walk away. There's an immediate paper backup. It leaves a paper audit trail and that instills confidence in voters."
While voting by paper ballot may take some voters more time, all in all, Carney said, voters should be in and out more quickly. Precincts will have either 10, eight or six privacy panels, meaning, at most, 10 people will be able to vote at once. In the past, the maximum number of people voting at once was three.
"We shouldn't have any voters waiting in line," Carney said.
Each precinct will still have one electronic machine for voters with disabilities.
There should be less waiting for election results as well, Carney said, because election officials will not have to combine results from two different voting systems like in the past.
Carney said about 50 Kentucky counties purchased ballot scanners this year, though some have decided not to use them until 2010. There are no elections in 2009.