Sunday, March 20, 2016

Questions about Tuesday's alcohol vote answered

It’s been more than 15 years since voters in Crittenden County expressed their opinion on alcohol sales at the ballot box. In two days, about a third of the county’s residents will again get that opportunity.

On Tuesday, a special election will be held to decide the fate of alcohol by the drink in Marion restaurants seating 50 or more people. Since the referendum asks to legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages only in the City of Marion, polling will be restricted to the 2,172 eligible voters living inside the city limits.

If the measure passes, it would be the first time since voters elected to go dry in 1936 that the purchase of alcohol would be permitted in Crittenden County. In that election, residents chose by a resounding 1,705 to 398 margin to go dry. In 2000, a referendum calling for countywide by-the-drink sales in restaurants failed 1,622 to 2,314.

A majority yes vote Tuesday would also move the county from one of Kentucky’s 30 “dries” to the 50 currently considered moist, which means only select precincts permit the sale of alcohol. Voters in Adair County face the same decision Tuesday.

Registered voters inside the City of Marion only. Voters must have been registered by Feb. 23. If you are uncertain of your eligibility, contact County Clerk Carolyn Byford’s office at (270) 965-3400.

The second alcohol option election in the county since 2000. The ballot question reads: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink in Marion at restaurants and dining facilities with a seating capacity of at least 50 persons and which derive at least 70 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of food if the alcoholic beverage is purchased in conjunction with a meal?”

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Absentee balloting in Byford’s office ends at 4:30 p.m.

At the City of Marion’s five precinct polling locations. Voters unsure of whether they vote at the courthouse, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Marion Baptist Church, St. William Catholic Church or the Ed-Tech Center may contact Byford’s office.

Supporters want alcohol sales legal or the first time since 1936. Crittenden County is one of 30 counties in Kentucky where all alcohol sales are forbidden. Voters in Adair County, another of the 30 dry counties, also head to the polls Tuesday to consider allowing the limited sale of alcohol.

The balloting will be conducted like a typical state-run election. Voters will simply mark Yes or No on their ballot, and machines will tally the votes.