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Voices from the precincts, where turnout was poor
Fewer than 15 percent of Hall voters turn out for primary
Bob League of Flowery Branch sports an "I Voted" sticker after voting Tuesday at Flowery Branch High. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Turnout in Tuesday's primary was very poor across Northeast Georgia, but perhaps lowest in Hall County.

According to unofficial vote totals, only 14.26 percent of registered Hall County voters cast ballots. That's the lowest turnout in the past five general primaries, according to Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, Hall's interim elections director.

She said she was very disappointed and surprised by the low number of voters.

"I'm kind of disappointed, of course, because there's a lot of work involved in holding an election," she said.

She added that she expects turnout for November's general election to be double or even triple Tuesday's turnout, largely because of the national races.

Gainesville Mill precinct, Montgomery Memorial Church
Gainesville Mill is a small precinct, with just 180 registered voters. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, only 18 of them had turned out to vote.

Colleene Ivey and her two fellow poll workers passed the time reading, knitting and doing word puzzles.

"This is an older community, and a lot of older people feel it's too much trouble to come out," Ivey said.
But to Cecil Boswell, who is still mowing lawns at age 90, there's no such thing as being too old to vote.

He has hardly ever missed an election, he said, except while he was serving in World War II.

Boswell showed up Tuesday afternoon to become Gainesville Mill's 19th voter of the day. But he wasn't thrilled about being forced to select either a Republican or Democratic ballot.

"I like it when they're mixed up, when everybody is on the same sheet of paper together," he said. "I don't like having to choose between one (ballot) or the other. We defeated Hitler to prevent this kind of thing."

Gainesville II precinct, Community Services Center
Voter traffic was slow Tuesday morning at the Gainesville II precinct, but began to pick up in the afternoon. Maybe a lot of people had the same idea as Mary Powell.

"I usually vote at this time of day to avoid the lines (in the early morning and evening)," she said.
Powell, 71, is disabled and relies on a cane to get around. Friends have asked her why she doesn't vote absentee. But she thinks it's important to show up in person.

"I remember a time when (black) people couldn't vote, so I do my part," she said. "I was determined to walk in here and vote."

Powell said she tries to stay informed about local politics. "I read about the candidates, and then I pray about it," she said. "I ask God to guide me to the right person."

West Whelchel precinct, First United Methodist Church of Gainesville
West Whelchel traditionally has the highest turnout of any Hall County precinct. But as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, only about 500 of the precinct's approximately 3,000 registered voters had come to the polls.
"I've never seen it this slow," said precinct manager Joan Bridges. "I can't figure out why. This really has me stumped."

Bridges said turnout would have been even lighter if it weren't for Lanier Village Estates, the nearby retirement community, which takes residents by bus to the polls.

So it was quite a change of pace when a trio of young women showed up Tuesday afternoon. They were the Kell family: mom Tracey, 45, and daughters Lauren, 18, and Deidre, 20. (Dad Stephen already had voted in the morning.)

It was only the second time Lauren had voted, but she said going to the polls seems perfectly natural.
"All my friends vote," she said.

Tracey Kell said participating in the political process is a family activity.

"We believe in voting in every election, because it's your civic duty," she said. "We discuss the candidates as a family, and talk about who would do the best job."

Mount Yonah precinct, First Baptist Church of Cleveland
In White County, even a three-way race for the county commission chairman did not lure many people to come out and vote.

At the Mount Yonah precinct, poll manager Verdell Woodall wished the traffic would have been a little heavier.

"If we do 600 for this precinct, we're doing good," she said. "Maybe people think this is not important. I would have thought they would be more interested in the commission race."

Woodall said White County's election superintendent, Garrison Baker, had downsized his expectations for turnout, predicting about 20 percent of the county's 13,500 registered voters would participate.

"We thought we would get about 2,000 people in advance voting (last week)," Woodall said. "But we only got 678 voters, so we knew this was going to be slow (on election day)."

Woodall said it was unfortunate that most county residents would not have a voice about which commission candidate -- Teresa Stansel, Rick Post or Travis Turner -- becomes the new chairman.

"I feel bad for the candidates, because if turnout is poor, it can throw the election by just a few votes," Woodall said. "If somebody doesn't get at least 50 percent (of the votes), there will have to be a runoff, and then even fewer people will come out."

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