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Business was slow at Hall County polling sites
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Gainesville resident Pam Reid casts her ballot Tuesday in the Chestatee Room of the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

When Tom Durrett opened the doors at the Gainesville Civic Center polling precinct, there was no one there.

In fact, no one showed up for the first 20 minutes, which is highly unusual for one of the county’s largest precincts.

Tucked away under tables or beside them on their chairs, many poll workers brought a good book. It was that kind of day.

Gainesville advertising executive John Vardeman said he was driving home from the office when he looked at the Civic Center and thought about voting.

"I wanted to do my duty," Vardeman said.

Donna Murray said she came Tuesday out of a sense of obligation. She looks forward to coming back for Election Day in November.

"It’s an exciting year for me," Murray said. "My youngest will be old enough to vote for the first time, and I’m excited."

Elaine Cook of Gainesville said she came out to vote in the U.S. Senate race.

"I always come out to vote," she said.

By 5:30 p.m., 168 voters had cast ballots at the civic center, compared with 301 three weeks ago. There are about 1,500 registered voters at the precinct.

At midmorning, the precinct at the Georgia Mountains Center held only poll workers.

The three voting machines sat ready.

But for long periods of time, there were no takers.

At Lakewood Baptist Church, Shamila Smith brought her son, Issac, with her to vote.

I’m excited about this election year," Smith said. "Everyone should feel the obligation to vote."

Ann Demling was among the voters in the Democratic runoff at Lakewood.

"I just came out to vote in the Senate race," Demling said. "I’m excited about the presidential race and am ready for change."

Darren Johnson, who moved here two years ago from Augusta, was also among the voters at the Lakewood precinct. He was disappointed by the low turnout.

"Voting is a privilege we have that people have not taken advantage of," he said.

Election officials previously said that a typical election costs taxpayers $45,000 to hold.

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