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County sees increased use of absentee ballots

Warren County held its first election of the COVID-19 era last Thursday with the biggest difference being the number of paper absentee ballots that were cast.

“We had just under 400 absentee ballots and those take a while to count,” said election administrator Susie Davenport, who noted the exact number was 397.

In anticipation of the high number, Davenport said the Election Commission was expanded from five members to nine. It was composed of five Republicans and four Democrats since the GOP is the dominant party in the General Assembly.

Each ballot is counted with one Republican and one Democratic representative watching to ensure it is counted correctly.

“It takes time and you have to do it right,” said Davenport. “There’s a judge representing each party to make sure of that.”

The election which was held Thursday is usually one with low voter turnout. Four years ago in this same election, there were only 3,267 votes cast in Warren County. This year the total was well above that at 5,806. That represents about a 27% turnout of the county’s 21,000 registered voters.

Davenport said the election was good practice for the presidential election in November, which can draw around 50% of registered voters in a strong year.

“Who knows what November will bring,” said Davenport. “The presidential election is usually the biggest in the election cycle.”

Anyone age 60 or older is eligible to request an absentee ballot, provided they have registered to vote in person or voted at least once in person. Davenport said Warren County has more than 8,100 voters who meet this criteria.

Thursday’s election was a primary for most state and federal seats. However, state Rep. Rush Bricken has already retained the seat in the 47th District after winning the GOP primary because there is no Democratic opposition in November.

In local races, Beth Martin was re-elected to her third term as property assessor. Kasey Owens won an open seat in the 3rd District on the Warren County Commission.

On the School Board, Tanya Bess was re-elected to her third term in the 4th District, while Tommy Culwell won election for the first time in the 6th District. Bill Zechman ran unopposed in the 2nd District.

Also taking office unopposed are constables Mark A. Griffith and Ed Farmelo.