No plays or concerts are scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Bowling Green’s Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center could be a popular destination come October.

Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates said Friday that SKyPAC will be used as the county’s venue for early in-person voting under election plans announced last week by Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams.

Those state guidelines for early voting included voting weekdays and Saturdays, but Yates said specific hours and dates hadn’t been determined for the SKyPAC polling location.

Yates said SKyPAC would probably be open for voting on some Saturdays for four hours. She anticipates weekday hours of 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“The state said we can open early voting on Oct. 13,” Yates said at Friday’s Warren Fiscal Court meeting in the county courthouse. “We’re trying to get approved to open Oct. 1. That would give us a full month of being able to vote at SKyPAC.”

Yates said holding early voting at the courthouse, as was done leading up to the June primary election, simply isn’t practical for the higher turnout expected for the Nov. 3 general election.

“We decided we needed a polling location in town,” Yates said. “We can’t have that many people coming in the courthouse with the pandemic still going.”

With the U.S. presidential race and a U.S. Senate race on the ballot, Yates is expecting a turnout that could exceed that of the 2016 general election.

“We were at 61 percent (turnout) in 2016,” Yates said. “I’m looking for 65 to 70 percent this time.”

By contrast, Yates said the county had a 29 percent turnout in this year’s primary election, with most of that coming from the no-excuse mail-in absentee voting that was allowed because of the pandemic.

The county’s one polling location open on the June 23 Election Day, Phil Moore Park, drew nearly 3,400 voters.

For the general election, Yates said the county will have at least five polling locations open Nov. 3: the Phil Moore Park, Buchanon Park and Ephram White Park gymnasiums, Living Hope Baptist Church and SKyPAC.

“We’re working on one more location, but it hasn’t yet been approved by the state,” Yates said.

In addition, county residents will again have the option of voting by mail, although the state’s general election plan eliminates the no-excuse absentee voting by mail that was used in the primary.

Instead, voters can request an absentee ballot by stating they are afraid of contracting or passing on the virus.

Yates said the process for requesting an absentee ballot will be similar to that used for the primary election. Beginning Monday, voters can go to the Kentucky Board of Elections website at govoteky.com and request a ballot through the online portal.

That portal will be open through Oct. 9. County clerks will mail out the ballots, which must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received at a county clerk’s office by Nov. 6 in order to be counted.

Yates said her staff will be using the fiscal court meeting room to process the absentee ballot requests.

The pandemic voting rules have created extra work for county clerk’s offices and a greater need for election officers, Yates said.

“We had more than 50 people working at Phil Moore Park for the primary,” she said. “We’ll need 40 or more at each polling place for the general election. We’re still looking for election officers, but we’re getting a good response.”

Yates said planning for and executing the election while following pandemic guidelines is “labor-intensive,” but she said it’s necessary.

“The voting process is the most important thing this office does,” Yates said. “We want to make sure it’s done safely and securely.”

In addition to hearing about the election plans, fiscal court approved a number of spending items Friday. Among them:

  • $57,836.25 to Morbark for an Eeger Beever woodchipper for the county road department. The price is after the trade-in of two older woodchippers valued at a total of $20,000.
  • $37,931.48 to Bachman Chevrolet for the purchase of a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe for the Warren County Regional Jail. The purchase is being made with the jail’s canteen funds, not from the county general fund.
  • $2,300.70 to Scott & Ritter for repair of the sewage pump at Ephram White Park.
  • $1,020.90 to Hagan & Stone for materials to complete storm sewer repair at Hilldale Avenue.
  • $2,227.02 to Jim Johnson Collision to repair a 2018 Ford transit wagon that was involved in an accident in Nashville.
  • $4,412.59 to Dell and $1,787.42 to SHI for computer server upgrades and equipment for the county public works department.
  • $5,039.25 to Barren County Business Supply for office furniture for the public works department.
  • $14,873 to Nashville Tent & Awning Co. for the purchase of the walkway tent at the courthouse needed because of the pandemic.
  • $5,184 to Scott & Ritter for Aquarius Way storm sewer repair.
  • $7,553 to Dude Solutions for purchase of the SMART Gov Online Portal for online permit applications and inspection requests.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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