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Hall County’s numbers for early voting fewer than expected

Polls reopen Tuesday

POSTED: December 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Despite the upcoming holiday, a few voters have been going to the polls to cast early votes in the Dec. 2 runoff that will help fill a seat in U.S. Senate, the state Appeals Court and the Georgia Public Service Commission.

The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin has grabbed national headlines, as a win by Martin could add to the majority the Democrats earned in the Nov. 4 general election. Two other statewide seats to be decided by the runoff are the state Appeals Court between Sara Doyle and Mike Sheffield, and Public Service Commission District 4 between Republican Lauren W. McDonald Jr. and Democrat Jim Powell.

In Hall County, 8,841 people cast ballots on the touch-screen voting machines in the elections office through the end of early voting Wednesday, according to election officials. In addition, an estimated 2,000 paper ballots had been received.

Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, Hall County’s interim elections director, said Wednesday afternoon the turnout has been a little bit lighter than she expected.

She had predicted about 40 percent of Hall’s 79,273 active registered voters would cast ballots — either early or on election day — for the Dec. 2 runoff.

"It’s a bit smaller than I had predicted," she said, remaining optimistic that the numbers could increase with paper ballots and votes cast on election day. "There’s still Dec. 2."

Whatever the turnout Tuesday, Sosebee-Hunter said her office will be ready.

Lumpkin County didn’t have quite the early turnout that Hall did, but it still has been better than normal for a runoff.

An official said about 2,000 votes were cast early in Lumpkin County, with more than 300 casting ballots Tuesday at the elections office. Voters will decide who will fill a position on the Dahlonega City Council and the District 1 seat on the Lumpkin County Board of Education.

Cindy Foley, Lumpkin County’s deputy registrar, said "a tremendous amount" of the 1,314 people who have voted in the elections office as of Wednesday morning indicated interest in the race between Chambliss and Martin.

As of Wednesday morning, 1,865 people, which also includes some paper ballots, voted in early and advance, Foley said. That means 12.6 percent of the county’s active registered voters already have cast ballots.

There also were mail-in ballots that still were being processed and were not included in that number.

While that may not seem like a large turnout, Foley said it is more than Lumpkin typically has for a runoff.

All voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the runoff election.

All normal rules apply, including the requirement to show a photo ID to vote in person.



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