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Election sets Hall County voter turnout record
Turnout lowest in precincts with high numbers of minorities
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Cindy Vetter arrives early Tuesday morning to voting precinct West Whelchel at Gainesville First United Methodist Church along with dozens of other voters to cast their ballot shortly after the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Turnout in Hall County for this year’s presidential election beat a high set in 2008, with about 78.5 percent of voters casting ballots compared with about 76 percent when President Barack Obama first took the White House.

But turnout among Latino and African-American minorities did not materialize as strongly as Democrats had hoped.

It’s a result seen in Hall, across the state and nationwide that was as significant to Republican Donald Trump's victory as was his support among white working-class voters.

Nationally, the voter turnout rate this year was 56 percent, compared with 58 percent in 2012 and 61 percent in 2008, with much of the decline this year seen in lower turnout rates among minorities.

Voter turnout was higher than 74 percent in Georgia.

Hall Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said results would be formally certified Monday after counting a few dozen provisional ballots. But there are even less of these cast than there were in 2012.

A record number of Hall voters, about 35,000 in all, turned out for early voting this year, setting the pace for Election Day.

And more than 1,000 local Latinos joined the voter rolls in the last 12 months, according to numbers from the Hall County Elections Office.

There were about 3,000 more eligible voters overall in Hall this year compared with last.

But one of Hall County’s voting precincts with a large Latino electorate reported one of the lowest turnout rates locally, for example.

Just 68 percent of registered voters at the Tadmore precinct (voting at Harmony Hall Baptist Church) came out early, on Election Day or cast an absentee ballot.

Trump won Tadmore by just 49.65 percent to 46.68 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton, a difference of just 72 of 2,427 votes cast in the precinct. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson captured 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Gainesville II precinct (voting at the Fair Street Neighborhood Center), which includes one of the county’s largest concentrations of black voters, saw the lowest single turnout of all at just 65 percent. Clinton won Gainesville II with 89 percent of the vote.

On the other end of the spectrum, West Whelchel (voting at Gainesville First United Methodist Church), which includes a mostly white suburban electorate, reported the highest local precinct turnout at close to 87 percent.

Trump won that precinct with 76 percent of the vote compared to 19 percent for Clinton and 4 percent for Johnson.

The Gillsville precinct (voting at Pine Grove Baptist Church) and Friendship IV (voting at the Spout Springs Library in Flowery Branch) also saw turnouts of 85 percent or higher, with Trump winning by a 3-to-1 margin.

Trump won Hall County overall with 72.73 percent of the vote while Clinton received 22.73 percent and Johnson managed 3.24 percent.

Johnson performed better with voters on Election Day than he did in early voting, while Clinton and Trump fared stronger in early voting totals.

About 1.3 percent, or 921 voters, cast write-ins.

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