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Early voters pick up steam
In the final week, officials expect thousands to cast ballots
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Voters line up to sign in Friday at the Hall County Elections Office. - photo by Tom Reed
This year’s presidential election promises to draw record numbers of voters on Nov 4. However, for those who want to beat the crowds, advance voting starts Monday.

Interim Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter said she is expecting a higher number of voters next week than she has seen during the previous five weeks of early voting.

"I do suspect that we will have some last-minute procrastinators," Sosebee-Hunter said. "I can probably predict we will vote 10,000 next week or more."

Since Sept. 19, about 16,500 people have taken advantage of early voting, and Sosebee-Hunter said she expects thousands more will vote by the time advance voting ends on Friday.

"This week we’ve been looking at the 1,000 to 1,100 range" per day, Sosebee-Hunter said.

This is the first time Georgians have had the opportunity to vote early for an extended period of time. Previously, early voting lasted just one week, but this year in Hall County, polls have been open since Sept. 19.

The period from Sept. 19 to Friday was called early voting, while advance voting takes place the week prior to the election.

The Hall County Elections office has been "very pleased" with the extended time for early
voting, Sosebee-Hunter said.

Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel’s office, said in September he has seen early voting rise in popularity over the years.

In February’s presidential primary election, 12 percent of votes were cast early. In the same election in 2004, only 6 percent chose to vote early, he said.

But some are wary of the early voting, despite it’s convenience.

Gary Smith, Chairman of Forsyth County’s Board of Registration and Elections, said he is concerned about a rumor that early votes don’t count.

"I’ve heard it from more than a couple of people," Smith said. "I want to dispel it right now."

Smith sent an e-mail assuring voters that no matter when they vote, their votes will be counted at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

Sosebee-Hunter said she too has heard that rumor.

"That statement is not true. Every valid ballot in the state of Georgia is counted," Sosebee-Hunter said.

She said the rumor could be derived from the fact that in some states, Absentee ballots for some local races are not counted unless there is a tie or a close election.

Advanced voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday at the Hall County Elections Office at 2285 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

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