Lincoln County voter turnout at 79 percent

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Photo by Alex Jacks/Election officials open a precinct box Tuesday night at the Lincoln County Government Complex.

Photo by Alex Jacks/Election officials open a precinct box Tuesday night at the Lincoln County Government Complex.

Voter turnout in Tuesday’s General Election was 79.69 percent, the highest number Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield has seen.

Of the 21,007 active voters in Lincoln County, 16,741 of them unofficially cast a ballot.

The 31 precincts in the county saw 14,812 of those voters Tuesday. Bairfield said 384 of them cast an affidavit ballot.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Those were people who were listed as inactive,” he said. “That means that when they went to vote, their name did not show up. When the precinct called our office, we would tell them to let them vote on paper or as an affidavit. They all filled out the outside of the envelope and we will correct their information. They will be getting a new voter registration card mailed out.”

Seven affidavit ballots were set aside and not counted Tuesday, for lack of identification, Bairfield said.

“There’s seven that we have to hold for people to come to my office to show a photo ID,” he said. “They did not have a proper photo ID when they cast their ballot. If they don’t come here to show their photo ID, then those ballots will never be opened or counted.”

Bairfield said 1,545 of the total votes were absentee, which counted as 7.4 percent of the total vote.

“Votes on the machines were extremely high,” he said. “They are all up. A county election, usually ends up somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000. Well, we have over 13,000 just on the machines. We usually average around 51 percent turnout.”

Lincoln County overwhelmingly voted for Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election, tallying 69.18 percent. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 29.23 percent of the presidential election votes.

Republican Gregg Harper stole the show for the 3rd Congressional District vote in Lincoln County, with 71.45 percent. Democrat Dennis C. Quinn received 25.87 percent of the vote in the county.

Dawn H. Beam overtook Michael T. Shareef for the non-partisan Supreme Court Southern District with 60.37 percent of the votes.

Republican Ernie L. Clark unseated the incumbent District Three Election Commissioner Stanton L. Long, who is also Republican, with 53.11 percent of the votes.

All votes — absentee, affidavit and in person — were counted Tuesday night.

“Most counties don’t tally all of the votes the night of,” Bairfield said. “I like to get it done though, because everyone wants to know the results.”

Lincoln County’s votes will be certified Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. at the Lincoln County Government Complex.

“We have to wait to see if anybody is going to come in for the seven photo IDs. If they do, then we can add those votes to the totals. The election commissioners will come in and certify the election that Wednesday,” he said.

Bairfield reported no problems during Tuesday’s election, but cited several upgrades he would like to make for future elections.

“Overall, the hardware, the election itself was very, very smooth,” he said. “What we did learn from this election, since it was such a high turnout, is that we’re going to try to update our voter poll books, the electronic poll books.”

The goal for updating the poll books would be to allow the names of inactive voters to show up in each precinct’s book, Bairfield said. This would avoid the large number of affidavit ballots, he said.

“That’s something we’re going to try to change in the future, just to make it smoother for the voter,” he said. “The main thing, at the end of the day, is we try to make sure every vote counts.”