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Advance voting under way for local and state runoffs
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Billy Robertson, front, 69, of Flowery Branch fills out an application for early voting while Frank Henderson, 86, of Oakwood casts his ballot at the Hall County Elections office Monday. Early voting brought more than 100 voters to the elections office Monday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Advance voting for Georgia’s primary runoff has begun.

In Hall County, Republican voters will be deciding the race for clerk of court, while Democrats will vote in the U.S. Senate contest between DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones and former state lawmaker Jim Martin.

Despite having just one race on each ballot, Hall County officials said 196 people cast ballots on Monday.

Georgians can vote in the runoff whether they cast a ballot in the July 15 primary or not.

Voters who did participate in the primary and selected either a Democratic or Republican party ballot must vote on the same party ballot in the runoff.

Among the major races in the region is the GOP state Senate race in District 50 between incumbent Nancy Schaefer and challenger Jim Butterworth, who was the top vote-getter on July 15. The district includes Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Stephens and Towns counties, as well as a portion of White County.

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel reminded voters to bring a photo ID to the polls.

Two weeks ago, only 14.8 percent of Hall County’s electorate went to the polls to decide contested Republican races for county commission, tax commissioner and two posts on the Georgia Public Service Commission. Democrats decided on one of those commission seats, a county commission post and narrowed the field on the U.S. Senate race. Without a strong top-of-the-ticket race in the runoff, traditionally about 25 percent of those who voted two weeks ago are likely to cast ballots by the Aug. 5 runoff.

In neighboring counties, such as Habersham, where a contested sheriff’s race must be decided in a runoff, along with the state senate race between Schaefer and Butterworth, the turnout is likely to be much higher.

In some counties, only the U.S. Senate race between Jones and Martin is on the ballot. That contest, to decide who will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga, this fall, has been a lackluster event especially in the areas outside the Atlanta television market, where both men are better known.

Hall election officials said potential voters who have contacted the office are more interested in the fall election, which will include the race for president.

Traditionally, election year turnout for presidential races is 50 percent or higher.

Advance in-person voting ends Friday. Georgians also have until Friday to request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be received by election day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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