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Election officials prepare for big turnout
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Upcoming election coverage

Sunday: Results and analysis of a Georgia Newspaper Partnership poll on who’s leading in the gubernatorial race and other statewide races. Plus, a look at the historic nature of Tuesday’s election if two Hall County men are elected to lead the state. And find voter guide info on when and where to vote and what you’ll need to bring.
Monday: A look at the likelihood of a runoff in the governor’s race.
Tuesday: Catching up with Nathan Deal’s activities the day before the election.
Wednesday: A special section devoted to election results.

Click here for more elections coverage.

As advanced voting wrapped up Friday afternoon, elections supervisors predicted a high turnout for Election Day - some saying 50 percent or higher.

Since early voting began Sept. 16, nearly 10,000 early ballots have been cast in Hall County and almost 2,000 mail-in ballots have been returned.

Hall could see more than 60 percent in voter turnout, Hall County Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said.

"As steady as the voting has been this week, with over 1,000 people yesterday, my feet were screaming," Sosebee said with a laugh. "In our last gubernatorial election, we had 50 percent turnout, and voting has picked up so much in Hall County with local candidates on the ballot. I think Tuesday could be record breaking."

Dawson County Elections Supervisor Glenda Ferguson is also looking for 60 percent.

"I may be guessing a little high, because Dawson County had 40 percent in 2006, but that's what I'm hoping for," she said. "The 45 days of early voting were slow at first, but the last few weeks have been pretty steady."

About 2,500 people cast early ballots in Dawson County, which is 24 percent of registered voters.

Two local questions were left off the original ballot, so voters will also see a separate special election.

"We're really trying our best to make sure people know. We have a countywide phone message for people to get out and vote for 26 offices and eight amendments that they really need to study before going to the voting booth," Ferguson said. "We give out a lot of sample ballots, even as people come in the door to vote. If they aren't aware of the many amendments, they may want to take a minute to look at it."

Flowery Branch also will have two elections on Tuesday.

The city is holding a special election to fill unexpired terms for mayor and the Post 4 City Council seat. Normally, city governments in Georgia hold elections in odd-numbered years.

Flowery Branch voters must go to City Hall at 5517 Main St. to vote for mayor, the only contested race, but go to their normal polling precinct for the rest.

Voters in Forsyth County seemed more passionate and educated as they turned out to the polls early, said Forsyth County Elections Supervisor Barbara Luth, who has seen more than 15,000 residents vote already.

"We don't have an incumbent governor and people say they want to get out and vote and show the president and everybody how they feel about what's going on," she said. "Those are the comments we're getting from voters. They feel it's important to vote how they want things to be."

Luth is aiming for a 50 percent turnout.

"People have been coming out in droves," she said. "I hope they prove me wrong. I'd rather have 70 or 80 or 90 percent. I've been busy, but I like it."

Midterm elections typically have a much lower voter turnout than presidential elections, which pulled in about 75 percent of Hall County voters in 2008.

Almost half of voters came in early, with 27,570 of a total 60,276 ballots cast before the 2008 Election Day.

Early voting was popular statewide as well, with about 638,000 coming to the polls early.

As people came to the Hall County election office in steady streams this week, voters seemed to be confident in their decisions, Sosebee said.

"When four or five people are waiting to go to the touchscreen, we offer a sample ballot and most people say they've already got their mind made up," she said. "When they're at the touchscreen, you can see them moving rapidly through the ballot."

Sosebee took a spot in line at 5 p.m. Friday to close advanced polling and was the last person to vote early in the county. After a busy week, she's ready to see what Election Day brings.

"We all have our flat shoes on today," she said. "We're trying to preserve our energy for Tuesday."

Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.