A new election for alcohol sales in McCreary County seems more likely after supporters turned in more than 2,500 signatures requesting a local option election to McCreary County Clerk Eric Haynes on Monday.
Hayne’s office will now have the task of verifying the signatures on the petitions to certify they are from registered and legal voters, and to remove any duplicates. That process should be completed within the next ten days.
Even if some names are disqualified, there should be more than enough remaining to warrant Judge Executive Doug Stephens to call for a special election to be held on the matter. Only about 1,300 signatures would be needed to meet the qualifications to put the issue before voters.
A late-September countywide election is the most likely possibility time frame for the vote by state law.
According to KRS statutes, the local option election must be held no earlier than 60 after the petition is verified, and no later than 90 days.
That initially puts the window for the election between mid-September and mid-October.
However, another law prohibits a local option election to be held within 30 days of the General Election, which is scheduled for November 3, giving Judge Stephens a small window to set the date for the alcohol election.
The most logical date that fit the criteria appears to be, Tuesday September 29.
The date also would be more than three years past the last alcohol election in the county.
On August 28, 2012 more than 5,000 voters cast ballots in the last referendum. “No” votes outpaced “yes” by one percent of the total, keeping the county dry by a scant 47 votes.
Following the election Scottie Morrow, one of the organizers of the original push filed a civil lawsuit, asking a Judge to voice the results and order a new election.
There were 11 points of contention listed in the legal document, including allegations of active electioneering in a polling place, precincts allowing voting without ID verification, allowing residents of Tennessee to vote, and allowing voting after the cut off time.
While little action in the case has been seen other than an initial recount, the case remains open, but could be rendered moot if the forthcoming election is held.
Organizers of the latest petition drive state Morrow is not a part of their recent efforts.
Last fall voters in Stearns opted to allow limited alcohol sales in the historic town by 27 votes. Of 415 votes cast, 221, or 53.2 percent of the voters in the district, cast “yes” ballots in the election – paving the way for the historic district to serve limited alcohol sales by the drink.
Two weeks ago the first legal beverages were served as part of a Moonshine Limited special event dinner.