For the first time since the 1970s, the number of registered Republicans in Lawrence County exceeds the number of registered Democrats.
The Lawrence County Board of Elections received that news yesterday at its virtual public meeting. Commissioner Morgan Boyd, a Republican, said election director Ed Allison notified him of that, knowing that party registrations previously were close to breaking even.
"I was very excited to see that the Republican Party for the first time since the 1970s has overtaken the Democratic party in terms of registrations," Boyd commented.
The deadline to register to vote in the June 2 primary presidential election was Monday. According to figures that Allison provided from the county elections office, 54,201 county residents are registered to vote. Of those, 24,124 are Republicans and 23,957 are Democrats.
The remainder are either registered independent, nonaffiliated or no party, and one person is registered under the Communist Party.
Allison set forth some requests for voters who choose to go to the polls to vote in the primary.
"We certainly want everyone coming in the doors to the polling places to wear masks," he said.
If a voter requested and received a mail-in ballot, he or she is encouraged to complete and return it as soon as possible, and it must go to the county elections office. Allison said a locked and secure box will be placed inside the first of the double doors of the courthouse main entrance beginning today (Wednesday) for voters to deposit their completed mail-in or absentee ballots.
Ballots that are not put into the lockbox must be returned through the mail, he emphasized. He added that those with mail-in ballots cannot deliver them to the polls.
People who go to the polls who have been issued a mail-in ballot they didn't return would have to vote by a provisional ballot at the polls, and they would have to provide proof of ID within six days so that provisional ballot can be counted, Allison said, so there is no duplication of voting.
Allison said that as a backup, each polling place will have 50 provisional ballots as a safeguard — 25 each of democratic and republican.
"Generally, we don't use any (but this time) I anticipate using a few," he said.
He estimated that there will be a 15 to 20 percent voter turnout in mail-in and absentee ballots alone, not including the people who will go to the polls.
Boyd pointed out that the county's system has less chance for voter fraud by absentee or mail-in ballot than by going to the polls.
"That's because you pave to provide a driver's license or ID before getting the application," Allison said.
The election board also agreed to purchase an automatic envelope opener for the mail-in ballots at a cost of $6,164, including maintenance.