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Poll workers see slow but steady turnout for runoff
Tom Graves, Lee Hawkins vie for 9th District seat in U.S. House
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Runoff election
What: 9th District U.S. House seat vacated by Nathan Deal
When: Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today

Graves, Hawkins battle today for US House seat

Election guide

Voters trickled into the polls this morning, but poll workers expect a similar turnout for today's runoff as for the May special election.

By 11 a.m., the Gainesville Civic Center saw 100 people cast ballots in the runoff election between Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins for the 9th District seat in the U.S. House.

"It's just about like the last one," said Jack Ferguson, a poll worker taking completed ballots and handing out voter stickers. "It's been pretty steady."

The May special election featured eight candidates, and the votes came down to Graves with 35.6 percent of the vote and Hawkins with 23.2 percent.

Turnout for runoffs is typically lower, but Hall County Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said she expects about 19 percent of the county's 86,200 registered voters to show up at the polls - one percentage point higher than May's election.

Civic Center poll manager Tom Durrett said this morning's turnout could indicate higher numbers for this afternoon.

"I think we're seeing a good flow because we have the Hall County people going for the runoff," he said. "It should really pick up this afternoon."

Voters at the polls emphasized the civic responsibility of coming out for a second vote.

"It's very important in this election for local people to have local representation, particularly in the view of what's going on nationally," said Art Bilyeu, who said he hopes Hawkins can use his medical expertise to help redirect health care legislation.

"Especially as seniors, we want to make sure benefits aren't cut," agreed his wife Pam Bilyeu.

At the Georgia Mountains Center, 65 people stopped in by 10:45 a.m., and poll workers said they looked forward to seeing familiar faces.

"The voters are consistent here," clerk Maxine Moore said. "A lot of people walk or jog here, and some bring their children."

For Gainesville resident Mary Alice Simonton, not voting is not an option.

"My biggest reason to vote is the women who fought for my right to vote," she said.

Turnout in other 9th District counties was equally low.

Dawson County reported about 225 voters by 11:45 a.m., elections supervisor Glenda Ferguson said.

"It seems steady," she said. "I didn't expect it to be any different at this point."

With advance voting numbers down in Forsyth County, elections supervisor Barbara Luth predicted a 5 percent turnout. One precinct showed 100 voters by 11:40 a.m., she said.

"Polls have been picking up, so people are out there voting," she said. "That precinct may have 7,000 registered voters, so that's low, but for a runoff I really think people are interested."