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Still havent made up your mind about the election?
This year, undecided voters are few and far between
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Frances Smith - photo by Brandee Thomas

As the last weekend before Election Day winds down, candidates in races across the country are gearing up for a last push to the polls.

In addition to the presidential election between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, there are countless races for local and state government seats and ballot initiatives to consider on Tuesday.

But what about voters? Are they spending the last weekend deciding who’s going to get their vote?

About one-third of registered voters in Georgia already have cast their ballots, and many other states have seen significant turnout in early voting, as well.

In Hall County, an estimated 40 percent of registered voters have cast their ballots in advance of Election Day. Their reasons ranged from excitement to simply having decided.

"I voted early because I knew who I wanted," said Malinda Matthews of Gainesville. "My mind was made up, so I didn’t see a reason to wait."

Frances Smith of Gainesville also is among those who has made her decision and cast her ballot.

"I’ve voted already and I’m just ready for the election to be over," Smith said.

Shannon Smith of Alto agreed, though she’s looking forward to election night returns.

"I vote every year," Shannon Smith said. "I’m excited about hearing the results, but I’m ready for it to be over, too."

While both women are ready for Election Day to come and go, some are excited about the upcoming event.

"This election has been really exciting, I couldn’t wait until Nov. 4, so I voted early," Jason Atkinson said. "They say every vote counts, so I’m hoping that mine does and my candidate wins."

While Atkinson is hoping his candidate wins, at least one local voter is hoping voters will choose wisely.

"I am planning to vote. It is a very critical time in our economy. Our economy is very low and not doing very well, and we’re in the middle of the war. Whoever we choose as president needs to be able to stimulate the economy and do something more productive of the war," said Raeanne Pagliarulo, 18, of Braselton. "It’s been very hectic. I’m hoping in all that America will make the right choice. Whoever becomes president needs to do something about our downfalling economy. It’s a crucial election."

While millions of voters already have decided and voted for their candidates, millions more are undecided just days before the election. One in 7, or 14 percent, can’t decide, or back a candidate but might switch, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll released Friday. The AP-Yahoo News poll of 1,040 likely voters was conducted Oct. 17-27.

And while pundits and election officials are predicting record voter turnout across the country for this election, there are millions of others who won’t cast a ballot at all.

"I haven’t participated in elections before. I’m not registered to vote," said Kristin Matthews of Gainesville. "But I watched the debates, and I’m anxious to hear who the winner is."

Scott Maddox, 18, of Flowery Branch, said he may not vote because he’s not happy with either presidential candidate.

"I’m not sure if I’m going to vote or not because either way we’re screwed," Maddox said. "We have two candidates that we almost don’t know anything about."

Times reporter Brandee Thomas and Times clerk Megan Gill contributed to this report.

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