It was business as usual at Silver Creek Elementary School Tuesday as voters cast ballots in the delayed May primary election.
Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger said voter turnout was at 6 percent Tuesday but added approximately 19,000 absentee ballots have been cast and he expects to receive more mailed-in ballots before Saturday’s deadline. The State Board of Elections has given clerks a deadline of 6 p.m. Tuesday to turn in their final tally and Barger said he could have his completed prior to the deadline.
“We’ve already got 27 percent that requested a (mail-in) ballot,” he said. “That’s higher than any primary we’ve had in the last 15 years. Most have already voted with the paper ballot. It’s a big adjustment. Normally we have about 1,000 absentees, this time we’ve got almost 19,000.”
Barger said the process of counting absentees requires time, but added his staff can count up to “3,000 or 4,000” ballots per day.
The primary was postponed last month because of the COVID-19 pandemic and voters had the option of requesting an absentee ballot or voting in person on Tuesday at three locations in Madison County. In addition to Silver Creek, votes were cast at Clark-Moores Middle School and Boonesborough Elementary School.
“It was very smooth,” Silver Creek poll worker Warren Swope said. “We had a lot of folks come in and we had a pretty good turnout. We were constant all day and we had very little down time. It went very smooth with the set up that we had (Tuesday).”
“It went really well as far as I can tell,” he said. “People had a lot of questions, but that’s natural because we were doing it differently than we ever had. We didn’t have problems.”
Barger said he could have had more polling places available, but didn’t have enough poll workers available to make that happen.
The votes were cast polling style as opposed to traditional precinct voting. Drivers displayed their driver’s license and the proper ballot for each voter was issued by poll workers.
“They can vote anywhere in the county and you didn’t have to vote in your precinct,” he said. “It actually worked out really well and worked out better than I thought it would. With the iPads and the technology that we have, people can come in, give us their driver’s license and it pulls up where they need to vote and what ballot they need and it was real smooth. We were steady all day.”
At Silver Creek, voter Rick Mahurin was pleased with the process. Workers sanitized voting booths and social distancing protocols were followed by voters and poll workers at each location.
“It went well,” Mahurin said. “I was really glad to see the turnout we had. I don’t believe this virus slowed anybody down. I didn’t see any issues. It was a simple process and very organized. There didn’t seem to be any issues.”
First-time voter Madison Cummins cast a vote with her dad Kerry Cummins on Tuesday and also said the process was easy to follow.
“We used a paper ballot for old times sake,” she said with a smile.