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Alcohol question to appear on ballot

By Greg Bird

Despite the controversy emerging last week concerning purported forged signatures on a petition calling for a vote on alcohol sales in McCreary County the vote will go on as expected on November 5th.
McCreary County Judge Executive Jimmie Greene II signed an executive order Friday afternoon calling for the question: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in McCreary County, Kentucky?” to be added to the ballot for the General Election.
After the initial claims of falsified names began circulating on Monday afternoon, only 36 individuals approached Judge Greene last week to have their names stricken from the petition. One of the names removed was due to a duplication, not a forgery.
Responding to criticism over the forged names supposedly invalidating the petition as a whole, County Attorney Austin Price issued a statement last week stating the petition was still valid despite the actions of a few unscrupulous individuals.
“My response was, and still is, that it will not invalidate the entire petition,” Price wrote. “Common sense tells us that if one forged signature could thwart an entire petition then one unscrupulous person could maintain control over every petition regardless of the number of legitimate signatures. This simply is not the law.”
Todd Hansford, who circulated the petition, turned in 1,439 names and signatures of registered voters on the petition a few weeks ago. To be considered for the fall ballot, only 1,313 confirmed names needed to be presented, – 25 percent of the total voters from the last General Election.
Even with the names removed from the petition, there were still 91 more names than needed left on the documents, satisfying the conditions calling for a vote.
The November vote will be the third county-wide election concerning the possibility of legalizing alcohol sales in McCreary County over the past decade, but this will be the first time the question will be on a General Election ballot instead of a special election. In 2016 3,914 voters turned out for the special election, with a 32-vote margin deciding the issue. In 2012, the time previous, more than 5,000 citizens voted, with similar results – a 47-vote difference.
Historic downtown Stearns and the Stearns Golf Course used a precinct-level vote in 2014 to offer limited alcohol sales. That vote, held only in the Stearns voting precinct, saw “yes” votes prevail, 221-194.
According to the Kentucky ABC Board, as of last May 48 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are “wet,” and only 15 are completely “dry.” Other counties have cities, such as Burnside, Somerset and Williamsburg, where citizens have voted to go “wet.” Others, such as Wayne County have limited option sales as in wineries, distilleries or state parks.

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