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Tentative date for Alcohol vote set

Issue with petition may derail vote


A tentative date has been set for a special election to determine if alcohol sales will be allowed throughout McCreary County for the first time since the post World War II era.

But, issues with the verification of signatures on the petition requesting the election may hamper the chances of having the election at all.

Judge Executive Doug Stephens met with County Attorney Conley Chaney and County Clerk Eric Haynes this week to discuss the next steps after a petition was turned in last week calling for a countywide referendum to be held.

While the final verification process is still ongoing, Judge Stephens issued an order stating the election will be held on September 15, 2015.

Haynes, who has two staff members working full time on verifying the signatures, said he hopes to have a final tally by next week.

A total of 1,320 verified signatures of registered voters were needed to be collected on the petition in order to call for the special election.

Organizers behind the petition turned in 2,126 signatures on the petition last week – starting the verification process. Only 1,320 were needed to trigger the election.

The first thing Haynes’ staff did was to eliminate all duplicate signatures. In all, 278 duplicate names were included on the petitions, bringing the number of signatures to be verified down to 1,848.

By law, such petitions require a date, signature, address and date of birth. Haynes said there are several names on the petitions that have missing information, or illegible signatures, effectively voiding that name for consideration. Others may not be registered voters, and ineligible to be considered.

If more than an additional 528 signatures are rejected, the petition would fail to meet the required number of voters and Judge Stephens would have to rescind his order calling for the election.

Haynes stated he hoped to have a final figure by early next week.

Another issue would be holding the election on a school day. Haynes contacted McCreary County Schools Acting Superintendent Mike Cash of the scheduled date of the election since both McCreary County Middle School and Pine Knot Primary School are polling places. Cash consulted with the members of the Board of Education about the possibility of closing school that day, but will wait for official word from Haynes before making that decision.

The petition calls for an election to allow alcohol sales both by the drink and in package stores.

If passed, the County would have to set up a local Alcohol Beverage Commission Board to determine requirements for licensing and to establish tax rates for businesses that obtain licensees to sell.

It is estimated the special election would cost the County about $20,000.

News Update

County Clerk Eric Haynes confirmed this morning (Thursday) that the petition calling for a vote on legal alcohol sales in McCreary County did not have a sufficient amount of valid signatures to warrant a special election.

The petitioners needed 1,320 valid signatures, and turned in more than 2,100, but only about 1,100 of them could be verified.

Haynes said 278 signatures were disallowed due to duplications, while more than 600 were disqualified for missing or incorrect information or not being a registered voter.

Judge Stephens said Thursday morning that he would rescind his order calling for a September 15 vote on the matter.

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