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So far, voters aren't flocking to polls
John and Elsie Strother prepare to cast their ballot Friday afternoon at the Hall County Elections and Voter Registration office during the early voting period.

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By: Times_Newsroom

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Hall County Election Supervisor
2285 Browns Bridge Road, Suite 2
Post Office Drawer 1435
Gainesville, GA 30501-1435
Telephone: 770-531-6945
Fax: 770-531-3931

Election Guide, with contact information for area voting offices

Complete election coverage

Georgia elections information

The steady stream of early voters seen throughout the summer has slowed to a trickle.

With little more than a week before the July 20 primary, turnout is lower than expected.

“It’s very slow, slower than I thought it would be,” said Hall County Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee. “I don’t know if they’re waiting to the last minute with the debates, but those who have come in have made it a pretty fast process, like their minds are made up.”

About 875 people had voted at the Hall County Elections office by Thursday. Sosebee has received 126 of the 359 ballots mailed out to voters.

“I hoped we’d have at least 1,000 early voters by now, but we do have today and tomorrow,” she said Thursday. “I think it’s because there are so many candidates. People haven’t made up their minds.”

On voting day, Sosebee predicts a 45 percent turnout, the same percent she has predicted since the beginning of the election season. After a 17 percent turnout for the May special election to fill two open seats, she thinks a higher percentage for the primary is reasonable.

“The primary is important because voters want to specify their candidate to be on the November ballot,” she said. “If you’re waiting until November to vote, your person may not win the primary or end up on the ballot in November.”

Early voting in Dawson County started off with a bang as local candidates and their die-hard supporters, along with voters who had made up their minds, filed in to cast their ballots, Elections Supervisor Glenda Ferguson said. But then turnout slowed to a halt.

“People are waiting this time ... maybe waiting on the upcoming political forums to hear what the candidates have to say. I don’t know,” Ferguson said.

As of last week, early voting numbers were less than expected, with only about 4.5 percent of the county’s 14,328 registered voters already casting ballots. But the number of residents registering to vote has been on the rise.

“I think I’ve been more surprised with the increase in those registering to vote than the number of early voters,” said Ferguson, who saw a 3 to 5 percent increase in voters registering to vote between June 9 and the June 21 deadline.

In Forsyth County, early voting has actually picked up in the past couple of days.

“It was down, but there’s a more steady flow,” said elections supervisor Barbara Luth. “I hope it’s busy next week because we’re opening up five polls. We’re hoping people will come out.”

About 335 early voters have cast ballots, and 82 of 352 mailed ballots have been returned. Luth hopes for a 20 percent turnout on July 20.

With the large number of candidates on the ballot, Luth expects a runoff on Aug. 10.

“When you get more than three people in a race, you know you’re going to have a runoff,” she said. “It just splits the vote, and it’s hard to get 50 percent. That would be nice, but it’s not going to happen.”

Times regional staff writer Michele Hester contributed to this report.