Murray, Marshall to vote on heated issue

Following the city of Murray declaring the package liquor vote will occur on July 17, Marshall County officials scheduled their liquor vote for the same day.

Tim York, Marshall County clerk, said it was more a matter of convenience and less about coordination to have the dates the same between the counties.

Marshall County has the same laws governing special elections; a judge-ordered election cannot be held 60 days before or 90 days after a petition was submitted and approved by the county judge-executive.

York said the statewide primary election on May 22 pushes the voting window a mandated 30 days before special elections can be ordered.

Marshall 1st, the group proposing package liquor sales in Marshall County, had their petition approved by Marshall County Judge-Executive Mike Miller on April 16. After the required amount of time passes, the earliest possible date for a specific vote is June 26.

“July 17 is the last available date of our acceptable dates,” York said. “We wanted to wait as long as possible and give us time to catch our breath.”

Like Murray, Marshall County will need to have booths reset and recalibrated before a vote takes place, and the same company provides the voting services for both Calloway County and Marshall County voting machines.

“Both counties use Harp Enterprise (Inc.) voting machines,” York said. “We’re helping out Harp as a convenience so they only have to make one trip, so this was kind of done on purpose.”

The repair and refitting of the machines could take up to a week.

York said one of the biggest concerns heading into the vote is turnout rate, as one of the lowest attended polls in Marshall County history was in 2008.

“I can’t even begin to speculate,” he said. “You never can tell what the voters are going to do, but I know voter turnout will be one of the big issues.”

John Crofton, professor of physics and engineering and spokesperson for Grow Murray, said the same-day coincidence could go a long way in pushing people to vote in both counties.

“I would say having a Murray and Marshall vote the same day is good for getting the word out that there is an election coming up,” Crofton said. “I hope this will help with voter turnout because I would think that a larger turnout would work to our advantage.”

Crofton said any chance of gaining an advantage from each other in voting pressure was nullified when the communities decided to level the playing field and open polls on the same day.

“I do think there is some rivalry between Marshall and Calloway County,” Crofton said. “If one thought the other was going to get something first, that would probably spur the other side to action. Now we won’t have the results of their election before we vote so who knows.”

Despite being in two different counties, the campaigns for packaged liquor sales in both Murray and Marshall County are strikingly similar, except for a few small differences.

While the city of Murray would be the only wet portion of the county, Marshall’s vote includes all 25 precincts of the county, including Benton, Draffenville and Aurora.

Calvert City, which already serves liquor in restaurant establishments, is also included in the vote.

Should the vote pass in Marshall County, state legislation will not allow the building of more than one liquor store per 2,500 residents. Census data from 2010 has Marshall County at nearly 31,500 persons, meaning up to 12 liquor stores could be built.

Murray, as of 2010 Census data, has a population of 17,741, meaning no more than seven liquor stores could be built within city limits.