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Alcohol petition turned in

Local citizen Tony Hansford presented Haynes with the petitions containing signatures of local residents who support calling for a special election.

Representing a group of concerned citizens and businesses, Hansford gathered the petitions and took the extra step to check if the names were valid before submitting them to the Clerk.

Hansford stated there were more than 900 signatures on the petitions, but he had taken the precaution to verify each signature with the online voter registration database. Excluding duplicates, unverified voters and out of county residents, the petition contained at least 651 pre-verified signatures, more than enough to legally call for the election.

The petition needed enough signatures to exceed 25 percent of the local votes cast in the last regular election, the 2015 General Election held in November. Only 2,118 votes were cast in that election: meaning only about 530 signatures were needed on the current petition.

Haynes turned the petition over to County Judge Executive Doug Stephens, who returned it to Haynes in order for the official verification process to begin.

The verification should be complete next week, placing the date for the election to be held sometime in March. If the petition was turned in later, it could have caused a conflict with the May 17 Primary election. Under state law a special election cannot be held within 30 days preceding or following a regular election.

By law, once the signatures are verified, Judge Stephens has to set a date for the special election, no sooner than 60 days after the verification, and no later than 90 days.

The question on the petition asks “are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in McCreary County?”

If an election is held, and voters approve the referendum, the County will have to establish a local Alcohol Beverage Commission to determine what licenses will be permitted and establish the regulations and tax rates.

The latest petition comes just months after the last attempt to get a special election called fell short.

Over 2,000 signatures were turned in to County Clerk Eric Haynes’ Office earlier this year, but several names were disqualified for not meeting the requirements to be considered a valid signature.

Hansford’s efforts to verify the signatures should eliminate that possibility.

The 2015 special election would come more than three years past the previous wet/dry vote held countywide.

That special election, held in August 2102, saw the fifth highest voter turnout in the previous 12 years as nearly 5,000 voters cast ballots on the issue.

When the final numbers were tallied, “No” supporters won the day, edging out “Yes” voters by only 47 votes, one percent of the total votes cast.

A lawsuit was filed challenging the outcome of the election, claiming improper procedures during the vote, but the case still remains unresolved.

This past year voters in Stearns approved the limited sale of alcohol in the historic district.

On Tuesday the city of Barbourville and Oldham County held wet/dry votes, with alcohol supporters winning both elections.

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