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In Hall, voting lines start a week before Election Day
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A long line forms at the Hall County Elections Office around noon Tuesday. The last day for advance voting is Friday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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When Election Day finally comes, will there be any voters left who haven’t already cast their ballots?

Georgia’s expanded early voting this year has proven wildly popular, with election officials in Hall, Dawson and Lumpkin counties all predicting that at least 40 percent of their active registered voters will have voted early by week’s end.

"I think we’re going to see all the voters this week," joked Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, Hall County’s interim elections director.

Her office had more than 1,500 early voters stream into election headquarters on both Monday and Tuesday.

Since early voting began in September, Hall election officials have collected more than 20,000 votes, or about a quarter of the county’s approximate 82,000 registered voters.

In the last presidential election, about 10,000 voters in Hall County cast early ballots when there was only one week to do it.

In Lumpkin County, 30 percent of the county’s 14,766 active registered voters already had voted as of Tuesday morning.

Lumpkin County Supervisor of Elections Kimberly Pruitt agreed that voters could see shorter lines than usual next Tuesday.

"I would imagine so, assuming we hit 40 percent before Election Day," Pruitt said.

If Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel’s prediction of 85 percent statewide turnout holds true, "then we’ll only have 45 percent at the polls," on Election Day, Pruitt said.

Sosebee-Hunter said on Election Day voters may see lines reduced by two-thirds as the result of early voting. She believes the difference between the average wait times for those who vote on Election Day and early voters — about 20 minutes this week — will be negligible.

In Dawson County, board of elections Chairwoman Glenda Ferguson said about 35 percent of the county’s 12,949 registered active voters had cast their ballots as of late Tuesday. More than 340 voted at the board’s office on Tuesday.

"I feel a lot of it is they don’t want to wait in line on Election Day," she said. "They want to go ahead and get their vote in."

Said Sosebee-Hunter, "I think most everybody wants to go ahead and get it off their minds, just in case something happens on Nov. 4."

Ferguson said she has never seen such a high level of interest in an election.

"There was a woman who was born in 1928 who came in to vote and had never voted before," Ferguson said. "People are really feeling like they need to be heard."

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