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Kentucky Public Radio 2024 Primary Election Day live blog

Published May 21, 2024 at 6:00 AM EDT
A voter and polling booths on primary election day in Louisville on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.
Giselle Rhoden
A voter and polling booths on primary election day in Louisville on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

The polls are closed in Kentucky's 2024 primary election and officials are tallying the votes in a number of races including local, state and congressional elections. Find election results here.

Metro Council results shaping up

Posted May 21, 2024 at 8:37 PM EDT

As of 8:30 p.m., the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office had counted about 71,000 votes.

There are some interesting races developing, but we are still far from having all votes counted.

In District 6, incumbent Democrat Phillip Baker has lagged behind a progressive challenger, J.P. Lyninger, the entire night.

On the other hand, Republican incumbents Marilyn Parker and Stuart Benson appear to be holding their leads. Park and Benson both faced serious primary opponents.

Another race of note: In District 14, in Louisville’s South End, Republican Crystal Bast is so far outpacing Crystal Ann Barajas. Council Members Khalil Batshon and Jeff Hudson, both Republicans from the area, stumped for Barajas during her primary campaign.

Mary Lou Marzian wins Democratic primary in comeback bid

Posted May 21, 2024 at 8:31 PM EDT

Two years after she was redistricted out of her state House seat in Louisville, Mary Lou Marzian is again her party’s nominee, winning the House District 41 Democratic primary over attorney Rick Adams.

Marzian had 70% of the vote when the race was called by the Associated Press.

Marzian served for nearly 30 years in the House, known as a firebrand progressive who needled Republicans in floor speeches.

‘Liberty’ Republican candidates looking strong in northern Ky. races

Posted May 21, 2024 at 7:46 PM EDT

Several Republican candidates from the “liberty” wing of the GOP are showing positive results in the movement’s northern Kentucky stronghold.

The AP called the House District 69 race for Rep. Steven Doan of Erlanger, who had roughly 76% of the vote.

Additionally, liberty candidate TJ Roberts easily defeated C. Ed Massey in the House District 66 race, receiving 74% of the vote when the race was called.

Also showing strong leads in the region are GOP incumbent Reps. Marianne Proctor and Felicia Rabourn.

Each of these candidates from the liberty wing of the party are making strong showing despite a large financial investment by several PACs trying to defeat them.

One incumbent from the more establishment wing of the party is just holding on in Kenton County, as Rep. Kim Moser has a slight lead over challenger Karen Campbell with nearly all of the votes counted.

Moser received significant backing from PACs, but also several hard-hitting attack ads from social conservative PACs that highlighted her vote against a bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

AP calls presidential races

Posted May 21, 2024 at 7:17 PM EDT

The Associated Press has called the races for Joe Biden and Donald Trump for their parties’ nominations in Kentucky as polls officially close across the state.

Voters have also elected:

  • Eastern Kentucky GOP Congressman Hal Rogers for a 23rd term in office.
  • Louisville U.S. Democratic Rep. Morgan Mcgarvey for a second term. 
  • Northern Kentucky Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie to a seventh term in office.

Following Joe Biden and ‘uncommitted’

Posted May 21, 2024 at 6:29 PM EDT

Results from the eastern part of the state are starting to trickle in for the presidential primaries.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are certainly in no danger of losing their parties’ nomination, but there’s one spot on the ballot worth tracking closely.

In addition to longshot candidates, both Trump and Biden are facing off against “uncommitted,” where voters can express their displeasure with the party’s presumptive nominee.

There has been a movement among some Democrats to vote for “uncommitted” as a form of protest against the administration’s support for Israel’s continued military offensive in Gaza.

For reference: When former President Barack Obama was largely unopposed in the 2012 Democratic primary, he received only 58% of the vote, with uncommitted receiving 42%.

That was before many conservatives who were registered as Democrats in Kentucky changed their registration to Republican. In 2016, Trump won Kentucky in a blowout and Republicans won the majority of the state House for the first time in a century.

Polls closed in Kentucky's eastern time zone

Posted May 21, 2024 at 6:00 PM EDT

Polls have now closed in Kentucky’s Eastern Standard Time counties, which comprises the majority of the state. Early results are expected to start trickling in from some of those counties by 6:30 p.m.

Counties are likely to report their early voting totals first. According to Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, 75,204 Kentuckians voted by that method this year, though these votes are expected to be a small portion of the total votes counted. 53% of those who voted early were Republican.

Additionally, 12,402 absentee ballots have been turned in to county clerks, as of Monday.

The polls are still open for another hour (until 6 p.m.) in the Central Standard Time counties.

You can check in on the election results here.

Issues heading into the election

Posted May 21, 2024 at 3:03 PM EDT

According to Kentucky Secretary of State Communications Director Michon Lindstrom, voting has been “slow but steady” statewide.

“We haven’t heard of any issues,” she said in regards to polling locations.

At those locations, some voters have their eyes on state and local races like Louisville Metro Council, Kentucky Senate and Kentucky House.

Jeff Sallows is originally from Oldham County but now lives in the Old Louisville neighborhood. He said he wants to use his vote on candidates that will work towards assisting the growing homeless population in the city.

Homelessness is something that Sallows worries about everyday, he said. Since the recent passing of his partner of 34 years, Sallows said he could lose his home without his partner.

“I'm kind of paralyzed with fear about what to do,” he said “I have a 4,000-square-foot house full of stuff that I have to deal with by myself. All of our business equipment and our personal things, and I'm scared.”

Sallows said he would not be as worried about his future if local lawmakers created more safe, affordable housing units across the city.

“The security of having a roof over your head means a lot. When you're just turned loose out on the street, where do you go?” Sallows said.

The city is in need of more mental health resources and institutions, Sallows said. He believes that many of the people experiencing homelessness in the city could benefit from more access to mental health care.

“We have a beautiful city to live in. But [lawmakers] need to take better care of the people that need help,” Sallows said.

Voter turnout for the primary election

Posted May 21, 2024 at 1:05 PM EDT

On Tuesday afternoon, election official Michael Pyles said it’s been a slow day for voting at Central High School in Louisville. Around 80 residents had voted by lunchtime, according to Pyles.

He said he believes the small crowd is in part due to the lack of knowledge of how important the primary election is for voters.

“People are just like, ‘Oh, the May election doesn't count,’ but then when they get to the November election they say, ‘Why isn’t so and so on this ballot?’ If you would have voted in May, [that candidate] probably would have had that chance to make it to November for you to vote for,” he said.

This year, Pyles said more local residents took advantage of the three days of early voting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week. He said more than 2,000 people voted early at the polling location in Paristown.

Pyles hopes more young, Black voters head to the polls by 6 p.m. Tuesday, when the polls close.

“We have people fighting and dying to get where we are to be able to cast a vote. And we're just sitting here going, ‘It doesn't count. It doesn't matter,’ when it does,” he said. “We actually have people of color fighting for the same thing that we're fighting for: trying to get into the office to help [the Black community].”

District 4 Louisville Metro Council candidate Demetrius McDowell said he wants to be an “agent of change.”

District 4 Metro Council candidate Demetrius McDowell held campaign signs outside Central High School for Kentucky's primary election.
Giselle Rhoden
District 4 Metro Council candidate Demetrius McDowell held campaign signs outside Central High School for Kentucky's primary election.

McDowell, a West End resident, spent election day campaigning outside polling places. If elected, he said he hopes to tackle affordable housing, grocery store accessibility, and violent crime in his community.

He said these issues deserve more attention in the Metro Council.

“I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel,” McDowell said. “I'm just trying to change the tires and get better traction so we can enforce some of these policies and procedures. Someone dropped the ball and I just want to pick it up.”

A look inside polling places

Posted May 21, 2024 at 10:15 AM EDT

Some polling locations, like the gym at Audubon Traditional Elementary School, are eager to welcome voters casting their ballots Tuesday. Janet Pearson is an election officer for the precinct. She said her team at Audubon was ready to open the gym doors before 6 a.m.

“I like to be involved,” she said. “And I like to know that the elections are run as well as they are in Kentucky.”

Pearson said she has voted in every election since she was 18 — for the last 62 years. Last month, she celebrated her 80th birthday.

She said she was inspired by her late mother, who was a precinct worker when Pearson was a child.

Janet Pearson sits in a polling location.
Giselle Rhoden
Janet Pearson has voted in every election for the last 62 years.

Pearson has been an election official for the last six elections.

Even though some federal elections have nominees in place by May, Pearson said local races are still important this primary election.

“There are some local elections, some state elections that are still being determined,” she said. “So I think you should come out and vote for that reason.”

Heading into the primary, some voters are focused on how this election will impact their families. Dea Wathen is a mother of three who moved to Louisville with her partner, David, in 2017.

Wathen said her eyes are on how state lawmakers will tackle issues within JCPS and the future of education.

“Education certainly matters,” she said. “I want my children to be resilient and to be educated, to learn to stand up for themselves and for others.”

At the federal level, Wathen said her vote in the primary is her way of speaking to political leaders.

“It sends a message to the people that you are putting your energy behind to say, ‘Hey, I'm undecided for the presidency,’” Wathen said. “It's important to me that you are maybe making some changes in the ways that you're advocating for the decisions that you're making, and how they're impacting others. This is the way that we communicate other than just Twitter or social media.”

Every vote counts

Polls are open

Posted May 21, 2024 at 6:00 AM EDT

Today is Election Day.

In Kentucky’s Primary Elections, voters can only cast a ballot for candidates of their same political party and non-partisan candidates.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time and voters will need to bring some kind of identification.

Under state law, poll workers can accept government-issued and college IDs that include a photo.

Last year, voter turnout was less than 15%, but there is some encouraging news. Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams says More Kentuckians took advantage of early voting this year.

Find where to vote and answers to other frequently asked questions on the state board of elections website.

Find out more about candidates in your district using the KPR Voter Guide.