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Few voters turn out so far for special election

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POSTED: May 11, 2010 10:42 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Pat Anzaldi of Flowery Branch casts his ballot in the special election Tuesday at Friendship Elementary School.

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Voters trickled into polling places across Northeast Georgia this morning for an atypical election that could see low turnout.

In the first two hours of voting at the Gainesville Civic Center precinct, 56 people cast ballots for the 9th U.S. Congressional District and Georgia Senate District 49 seats.

“It’s slow but steady,” said poll manager Tom Durrett, who was hoping to see activity pick up around lunchtime.

Voter Michael Kubacki blamed low voter turnout on apathy.

“Nobody cares, which is crazy,” Kubacki said.

“Don’t complain if you don’t like the way things are being run if you’re not out voting,” he said.

At the Georgia Mountains Center, just 39 people had voted between 7 a.m. and 9:35 a.m.

Among them were Ed and Debbie Benner.

Benner said their household had been inundated with mailers, ads and automated phone calls concerning the 9th District race.

“I don’t know how people wouldn’t know about it,” Benner said.

The Benners said they felt it was important to vote “because we’re not happy with what’s going on in Washington right now — we don’t think we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

In 33 of 39 precincts in Hall County, 5,400 ballots had been cast as of 3 p.m. Interim Elections Superintendant Charlotte Sosebee said she expected about 11 percent of the county's 86,200 registered voters to show up at the polls.

Turnout in other 9th District counties was equally low.

In Forsyth County, elections supervisor Barbara Luth was predicting a turnout of less than 5 percent.

“Unless something totally comes out of the woodwork it will probably be that,” Luth said.

With eight candidates for the congressional seat, a June 8 runoff seems assured.

“We could pray for a miracle, but it probably won’t happen,” Luth said.

In Walker County, elections supervisor Barbara Berry was looking for a turnout of around 3 percent. It was that county’s first special election in at least 10 years.

In Dawson County, 76 people had cast ballots in one of the county’s three voting places as of 10 a.m., elections board assistant Karen Armstrong said.

Benner, the Gainesville voter, said he didn’t understand the apathy.

“I would think if you don’t come out and vote in this economic climate, you won’t vote for anybody.”

Said Kubacki, “I think it’s cool that we’re free and get to vote.”



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