The Election Day scene across Hall County on Tuesday:
Sisters lend a hand
Election Day can be hectic at the polls, but the sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. were at the Fair Street Neighborhood Center on Tuesday to help give voters a good experience.
"We've been here all day giving bottles of water and snacks to the voters," said Marsha Stringer, the president of the Lambda Iota Omega chapter. "During the election process we offered rides to the polls, assisted people getting registered to vote, and today we're offering snacks."
Stringer said her chapter's community service is part of a larger initiative taken on nationally by the organization.
"I think it has been well received," Stringer said. "We hope to continue for future elections."
She said her organization, which is a graduate chapter of the sorority, has been working on voter education and outreach since July.
"We're not associated with a school, we're actually the graduate chapter, which means we've all graduated and got professional degrees," said Stringer, a nurse practitioner. "You can continue community service and different initiatives."
Stringer said she was touched by the number of elderly people who came out to the polls despite their challenges.
"Another observation would be the number of elderly voters that's come out, that are disabled. They're pushing their walkers, coming in their wheelchairs to make sure their vote is received and their voice is heard."
Taking mama to the polls
It was her 22-year-old son that convinced Susan Moon to vote Tuesday morning.
"My son. He feels very strong about this and encouraged me to vote for the first time," Moon said.
At about 8:30 a.m., Moon cast her first vote at the Big Hickory precinct at Corinth Baptist Church. Moon said she was in and out of the precinct within about 15 minutes.
Her son, Damon Moon, walked out of the precinct shortly after he finished what he called "voting for the change."
"I'm just tired of the way the country's being run," Damon Moon said.
It was Damon Moon's second time voting in a presidential election.
‘I'm going to stand strong'
The Politically Incorrect Club is a group of Gainesville State College students whose views cover a wide range of partisan leanings. Tuesday night, they gathered at the campus to watch the returns come in.
Those watching early in the evening leaned Republican, as several of the Democrats were taking the Regents exam that is required for graduation.
Cameron McGinty, 21, a Gainesville State student is an unabashed McCain supporter, but was realistic about the race.
"My gut feeling is that Obama has this (election) but I'm going to stand strong and keep praying," said McGinty who was excited at the opportunity to vote in his first presidential election.
Mother and daughter vote together
Nineteen-year-old Samantha Weaver chose to head to the polls for the first time with her mom, Sylvia Weaver, on Tuesday morning.
The mother-daughter duo cast their ballots by 7:30 a.m. at Chestatee High School, and they had plans to have breakfast together before Samantha Weaver reported to work at Home Sweet Georgia.
Although she said she felt good about casting her vote, Samantha Weaver said it was comforting to have her mother along for the first experience.
"We wanted to come together," Samantha Weaver said.
Voting as zen ritual
Pam Fox headed out of the polls Tuesday morning with a yoga mat under her arm.
With short lines at the First United Methodist precinct shortly before 10 a.m., Fox had enough time to vote before she attended a yoga class at the church.
Fox said she was surprised at the short time it took her to cast her ballot Tuesday after what she had heard on the radio about long lines at local precincts.
"I went right in - I did not wait," Fox said.
Fox could have voted early, but she said she liked the tradition of voting on Election Day and no matter who won, Fox said she would be at peace.
"My faith is in God that he'll do what's right for this country, so I trust that it will all work out," Fox said.
First busy, then slow
Some Hall County precincts saw substantial lines when polls opened, which quickly tapered off and then slowed to a trickle of voters.
After an early-morning rush, the wait at the polls at Oakwood III precinct at Oakwood Gospel Tabernacle on McEver Road was nonexistent by mid-afternoon.
Poll manager Gary Osteen said at 7 a.m., there were about 100 people in line to vote. The first 25 voted in exactly 14 minutes, he said.
"Everything's been smooth as grease," Osteen said. "There's less of a wait than we had in 2004. Early voting has helped a heckuva lot. It's really taken the pressure off the polls."
At the Wilson II precinct at Gainesville Church of God, some voters already were in the parking lot when poll manager Eulene Thurmond arrived at 6 a.m.
"They waited for an hour before I opened the door," Thurmond said.
Lines were out the door at Wilson II during the first few hours of voting, but by midday, there were several empty voting booths.
At the Free Chapel Worship Center, poll manager Patricia Cisneros worried about the empty booths.
"It's been really slow, that's the problem," she said. At 4:15 p.m., only 273 of the approximately 1,800 registered voters of the Wilson I precinct had cast their ballots there.
"I'm hoping it's because of early voting or people who are waiting until after work," Cisneros said.
Some were still undecided
Hoschton resident Bern Fleming said the economy and taxes were important in making his decision, but he still came to the polls not knowing who he'd pick.
"I was just on the Web sites checking things out and still in my head right now. I'm still kind of undecided," he said.
However, he agreed that this year's election is an important one.
"I think it's one of the most passionate elections that we've had in the last 16 years," he said. "There's a lot going on with the United States that we've never faced or haven't faced in a long time ... I think this is a turning point in America on which way we're going to go."