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Early voter turnout in area strong, so far
Counties report big numbers with primary set Tuesday
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Area elections officials say that voter turnout may be higher this year than in previous presidential primaries, if early voting figures are any indication.

Hall County reported 3,014 voters who voted early this week. Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, interim chief registrar and director of elections for Hall County, expects about 30 percent of registered voters to come out to the Hall County polls on Tuesday.

Sosebee-Hunter said turnout for the 2004 presidential primary was about 27.5 percent of registered voters in the county. "I'm thinking it will be a little bit higher (this election)," she said.

Voting officials in White, Dawson and Banks counties reported that their turnout for advance voting last week was higher this year than in previous elections.

In Banks County, 214 people showed up at the polls this week, while another 116 mailed in absentee ballots, said Fred Wendt, registrar for Banks County. Wendt said participation is higher than in the last presidential primary and he expects a higher than average turnout on Super Tuesday as well.

"There's a good deal of stir about (this election)," Wendt said. "People are concerned about the candidates that are left, and the ones that have left the race already.

"I think they're anxious to get their votes in and be heard."

White County voting officials reported counting 986 ballots so far, including advance voters and absentee ballots.

Lisa Manning, chief voter registrar for White County, said that number is pretty good for a primary, especially in a county the size of White.

"There's been a lot of interest in this election," Manning said. "Usually, you don't get as many (early ballots)." This is especially true with nothing local on the ballot, Manning said.

Dawson County Board of Elections and Voter Registration reported 1,077 voters this week, 73 of which were absentee ballots. Glenda Ferguson, election supervisor for Dawson County, said there are more ballots that have been mailed in and have not yet been counted. "That's a good turnout," Ferguson said.

Ferguson, like other local election officials, said that the turnout was higher than Dawson County's turnout for the last presidential primary. Ferguson said she expects turnout on Tuesday to be "fairly good."

"It's kind of hard to guess. It's hard for us to get a feel for it," Ferguson said. "I think people are waiting until the last minute."

In Jackson County, 1,317 advance voters showed up to the polls, said Susan Reed, an election official in Jackson County. Reed said she believes that the number for this week was higher than in previous primaries.

When asked if she expected turnout to be higher on Tuesday than in previous elections, Reed replied: "Oh, yeah."

In addition to the presidential races, voters in Jackson and Lumpkin counties will be casting votes to decide liquor-by-the-drink sales.

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