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Election 2017: Paper ballots still the staple in Clermont, Lula
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Lula employee Teresa Heath holds a sample ballot ahead of Tuesday's election. Lula and Clermont still use paper ballots for their municipal elections. - photo by Carlos Galarza

In the age of voting machines, residents of Clermont and Lula will check off the candidates of their choice using paper ballots Tuesday.

During municipal elections, most towns and cities in Georgia use voting equipment that employs direct recording electronic systems that record votes directly into the computers’ memory without a paper trail.

However, that won’t be the case Tuesday when voters cast ballots in Clermont and Lula.

Election 2017

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Cities in Hall County with contested races include Gainesville, Clermont, Lula, Flowery Branch, Oakwood and Braselton

More info: Find stories on these races and information about where to vote at

“I only know one time Lula did machines and that was about 11 years ago,” city clerk Rosemary Totty told The Times. “For statewide elections and presidential elections, we do use machines from the county.”

Lula’s paper ballot in the contested mayoral race will have the names of three candidates, although one —  Felton Wood — withdrew from the race Friday.

Initially, Lula officials had planned on scratching Wood’s name off the paper ballots, but were instructed otherwise by state election officials, according to City Manager Dennis Bergin.

They are leaving Wood’s name on the ballot along with that of four-term mayor Milton Turner and businessman Jim Grier, who is making his first run at public office. However, Lula officials have taped a sign on each voting booth alerting voters that Wood has withdrawn.

During early voting that concluded Friday, Totty said 74 ballots were cast.

“That seems to be more than in other city elections,” Totty said.

Typically, about 300 to 350 voters turn out for Lula’s municipal elections.

Clermont town clerk Sandra Helton said there’s been no incentive to get away from the paper ballots for local elections.

“Since we have such a small number of voters maybe that’s why we’ve stayed with paper ballots,” Helton said.

Although Clermont has about 900 residents, voter turnout is often about 100. However, Helton said that more than 30 residents cast their ballots already during early voting.

Clermont voters have choices in two races. Three-term incumbent Mayor James Nix is being challenged by 21-year resident Steve Reeves, while the Ward 4 council seat is up for grabs between James Castleberry Jr. and Donna Reeves.

Flowery Branch and Oakwood used paper ballots during early voting, but will use machines on Election Day, according to Hall County Elections Coordinator Paige Nix.

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