By: Greg Bird
With the November 4th General Election fast approaching, voters will head to the polls to choose their representation for the next four years, but a few McCreary County residents will have another choice to make when casting their ballots this year.
In addition to several local and state-wide races, residents in the Stearns Voting Precinct will be able to cast a ballot to determine if alcohol sales by the drink will be allowed in the historic district.
County Clerk Eric Haynes has been getting several questions regarding the upcoming Alcohol referendum concerning who will be eligible to vote on the issue. He stated most of the questions centered on just who can vote for alcohol sales by the drink.
Haynes stated only those citizens who are registered to vote in the Stearns Voting Precinct can participate in the alcohol vote, not all residents of Stearns.
The Stearns precinct votes at McCreary County Middle School, along with Otter Creek and Revelo, but the other two precincts will not have the alcohol referendum on their ballot.
As of September 14, 2014, a total of 875 individuals are registered to vote in the Stearns Precinct. There are 292 registered Democrats, 559 Republicans and 24 Independent or “Other.” The alcohol vote is non-partisan, so any of the registered voters can participate in the ballot referendum.
The question to appear on the ballot is simple: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverage by the drink in qualified historic sites in the Stearns voting precinct?”
If passed, it would allow for alcohol sales by the drink only in certain places in Stearns, due to the special nature of state laws.
The Stearns Administrative and Commercial District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places is defined as four acres of land and six buildings, which constitutes Downtown Stearns only.
Alcohol sales would not just apply to a potential restaurant opening again in the downtown district, but could also allow for sale of alcohol by the drink at events or festivals.
The Big South Fork Scenic Railway saw great success this past summer with two special train rides, the Moonshine Limited. The ride offered a meal and train ride to coincide with the Moonbow sightings at Cumberland Falls.
In the past, an alcohol referendum would require holding a special election, at an additional cost to taxpayers, but recent changes in state law allows for the vote to be held concurrent with a regular Primary or General election.
If you have concerns or questions regarding what precinct you are registered to vote in, or want to check your voter registration status, you can contact the Clerk’s Office at 376-2411 or visit the Secretary of State webpage at www.sos.ky.gov.