BENTON — MarshallCounty voters rejected a local option on alcohol sales with 695 votes being the difference in the referendum.
The final tally in Tuesday’s local option was 6,906 voting no, and 6,211 favoring the measure, said Marshall County Clerk Tim York. Lakes-area precincts voted more in favor of the measure. With the exception of a Calvert City precinct, most of the more densely-populated areas voted against the measure.
Say No Now supporters gathered at the UK Extension Office on Mayfield Highway to monitor the vote. A projection screen listing all the county’s precincts was updated each time one of the precincts reported its final tally.
The mood was upbeat as the numbers hinted at a “no” result. The margin became insurmountable as the final three precincts were left to report, but the crowd held its reaction until West Gilbertsville, the last precinct to report, reported its numbers and completed the grid on the screen.
When the numbers were final, there were whoops and applause and hugs, but there were also expressions of hope that no hard feelings would remain.
“I hope ... we’ll get back to all just being Marshall County and being friends and neighbors,” said Keith Travis, a spokesman for Say No Now, a group opposed to the measure.
Bill Morgan of Benton agreed Marshall County residents need to move beyond ill will created during the lead-up to the referendum.
“It’s a sensitive issue to a lot of folks,” Morgan said. “I have friends who were on the ‘yes’ side and friends who were on the ‘no’ side and some who were undecided. I hope we’ll all still respect each other and still be friends.”
Sissy Wommack, of Marshall 1st, the group leading the initiative, said a strong “yes” turnout shows Marshall County remains divided over the issue. Tuesday, the city of Murray approved a similar measure.
“I’m glad for Murray and now everyone will just drive there to buy their alcohol,” Wommack said.
“In three years we’ll see how the economy is and decide then if it is right to try and go wet again.”
Rita Murray, of Benton, said she is a Marshall 1st supporter. She said she would be in favor of another local option, but expressed pessimism about a future measure’s success.
“We couldn’t of changed anything, not fighting more than 60 churches,” Murray said.
York said a local option cannot be reintroduced for three years from the referendum. While final costs of the local option were not available, he estimates the referendum will cost about $32,000. Anticipating a higher turnout, he ordered more ballots than required.
“I thought totals would be a little closer, but I wasn’t sure what to expect,” York said. “I’m not shocked either way, just thought it might be a little closer.”
York said he was somewhat surprised at the lower-than-anticipated turnout. He expected turnout to top 15,000 voters, the number seen in the 2008 Presidential election. The turnout represented about 53 percent of registered Marshall County voters.
York said he received no substantial complaints about electioneering or fraud during the referendum.
“I think, without a doubt, the results represent the way people voted,” York said. “I’m 100 percent certain the data is accurate.”