The prodigious population growth of Warren County during the past decade brings with it plenty of benefits for all residents, but it also ushers in new sets of challenges for leaders – one of which is beginning to be addressed by Warren Fiscal Court and County Clerk Lynette Yates.
Newly released census numbers indicated that Warren County’s population rose from 113,781 in 2010 to 134,554 in 2020, an 18.2% increase that means Yates has to adapt the county’s voting infrastructure to keep the process efficient and secure as the base of eligible voters grows.
Many people might first assume that means increasing the number of polling places in the county. In fact, however, Yates is taking a cue from the 2020 pandemic voting structure and opting to use “voting centers” that will house numerous precincts inside larger facilities than longtime Warren Countians are accustomed to, as well as bringing back a version of the early voting option that was held last year at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center but could instead be offered at all voting locations.
“We’ll go with half a dozen or so voting centers instead of having 49 locations,” Yates told the Daily News last week about her plans for upcoming elections. “That worked so much better.”
Those census numbers mean a lot of details remain unresolved as the 2022 election cycle approaches, Yates said. Numerous elected offices will be affected by the census data, meaning Yates must wait to begin final preparations.
“Until we do reapportionment, it’s hard to move ahead with our plans,” she said. “It will affect our magisterial districts and could very well affect state and federal races as well.”
Meanwhile, Warren Fiscal Court approved Friday the purchase of more than $200,000 in voting equipment that will buttress the nearly $600,000 in equipment the county bought last year. In total, the two buys give Warren County just shy of 100 updated voting “bundles” that are expected to enhance the efficiency and security of Warren County’s elections. Last year’s larger purchase was funded by a grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and Yates hopes last week’s buy will be covered by American Rescue Plan Act money.
Even if it cannot be paid for through those funds, though, this purchase strikes us as a prudent and necessary expenditure.
In light of Warren County’s rapid growth, and amid a national discussion about the security and integrity of our elections, we are glad to see our local officials being proactive about improving and expanding our local voting procedures. Voting is one of our most precious and solemn rights, and we applaud our leaders for investing time and money into one of their most important civic obligations.