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Polls closed, count begins in state primary runoff

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Voting steady across Hall County

Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

POSTED: November 2, 2010 5:06 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Voters cast their ballots in the gymnasium of the Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy Tuesday morning. Candidate for governor Nathan Deal and wife Sandra cast their ballot at the precinct as well earlier Tuesday morning.

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Voting has been steady at most precincts in Hall County, Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said.

By 2 p.m. the votes in Hall County totalled 18,000, or about 37 percent turnout.

Sosebee predicts a turnout of about 60 percent by the time polls close at 7 p.m. today, which would be higher than most mid-term elections.

This story will be updated throughout the day. Complete returns will be posted on gainesvilletimes.com as soon as they are available.

She said voting tends to be popular in the county, and with Hall County residents Nathan Deal running for governor and Casey Cagle running for lieutenant governor, turnout numbers will be especially high.

Most of the polling stations saw long lines this morning.

"We have expedited extra machines to one precinct, which had over 100 people in line," Sosebee.

About four machines were sent to the Morgan I precinct, which is the second-to-largest voting precinct in the county with 3,673 voters.

Sosbee said there have been no major problems and technicians were on hand to fix any issues with voting machines.

Voters in the Spout Springs Road area, though, have had to deal with closures that backed up traffic in both directions and on side streets.

Crews have narrowed traffic to one lane in two sections, one at Capitola Farm Road and one between Ivy Springs and Oak Ridge drives, for paving work.

Sosebee said the impact on the polling place at The Springs Church, 6553 Spout Springs Road, which is near the construction zone, was probably minimal.

"There was some construction going on during the primary and I got a lot of phone calls about that. This time, we're not having a lot of phone calls from voters," Sosebee said.

Deal and Cagle say they were feeling "optimistic" as they cast their votes at respective polling locations in Gainesville this morning.

Voters across the state today will decide whether Deal or his opponents, Democrat Roy Barnes or Libertarian John Monds, will become the next governor.

Cagle vies to keep his seat as lieutenant governor against Democrat Carol Porter and Libertarian Dan Barber.

Recent polls indicated a runoff is possible in the gubernatorial election, and Deal said he is hopeful the race will end today.

"It was a long campaign. We campaigned vigorously across the state and we had a great reception," Deal said.

"I am prepared certainly, but we won't come this far to turn back," he said of a runoff scenario.

As he has in past years, Deal arrived to vote at 10 a.m. at Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy, where all four of he and wife Sandra's children attended elementary school.

Before he voted, he was approached by retiree Pauline Williams, who was voting in a booth farther down the row.

"I said to him ‘You're my neighbor and this is my first time meeting you, other than seeing you on TV," she said. "He had my vote today."

She was quickly escorted away by polling staff, as required by policy.

Deal was surrounded by reporters as he left the school, and he urged people to take advantage of their constitutional right today.

Across town and earlier in the morning, Cagle performed his civic duty at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. Polling area manager BJ Tjepkema said it was a quiet scene as the lieutenant governor filled out his ballot, but people met him outside to shake his hand. Tjepkema and husband Paul have worked at the polling location for several years.

"We're seeing a lot of people here that we usually don't see," Paul Tjepkema said. This is very high interest."

"This could be history-making for Hall County," BJ Tjepkema added. "We could have a governor and lieutenant governor from our hometown."

Cagle said his campaign has volunteers working throughout the day across Georgia, to encourage more voters.

"In our travels, people wanted to talk about jobs and education and these are issues affecting the state," he said. "I think we conveyed a message voters appreciated."

Voters will also be deciding on a slew of statewide officials this election.

The midterm elections are not expected to generate as much excitement as the 2008 presidential election, when 76 percent of active registered voters cast a ballot.

This year nearly 800,000 ballots were cast in early voting. Georgia has about 5.8 million registered voters.

Several voters commented they were looking forward to their vote, but were tired of the political advertising this election cycle.

"This race and this governor's race has been more scandal-type talking than I can ever remember," longtime voter Rex Farmer said.

Deal and Cagle will spend tonight at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead with family and friends.

"We will be among our supporters," Deal said.

The polls will remain open until 7 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 



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