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Early Hall turnout a good sign for Deal
Poll shows GOP race in dead heat going into runoff
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Huckabee to stump for Deal in Gainesville

State primary runoff

What: Runoff election to decide party nominees on fall ballot
When: Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Voters cast ballots at local precincts
Who votes: All registered voters are eligible, even if they did not vote in the July 20 primary
Contacts: Hall County Elections Office, 2285 Browns Bridge Road, Suite 2, Gainesville; 770-531-6945; www.hallcounty.org

Who’s on the runoff ballot
Republican
Governor: Nathan Deal, Karen Handel
Attorney General: Sam Olens, Preston Smith
Insurance Commissioner: Ralph T. Hudgens, Maria Sheffield
Public Service Commission, District 2: Tim Echols, John Douglas
U.S. House of Representatives, 9th District: Tom Graves (I), Lee Hawkins
Hall County Commission Post 1: Bobby Banks (I), Craig Lutz
Dawson County Clerk of Courts: Justin Power, Gaye Cantrell

Democrat
Secretary of State: Gail Buckner, Georganna Sinkfield

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Turnout is never impressive in a runoff, but the folks at Nathan Deal's campaign might have cause to celebrate.

Hall County voters have voted early in greater numbers for Tuesday's primary runoff election than even those from densely-populated Fulton County.

According to preliminary numbers released by the Secretary of State's office, Hall County had the second-highest turnout for early voting across the state, second only to Cobb County, which had 4,106 voters cast a ballot by the end of the day Thursday.

Early voting ended Friday with some 3,203 voters, according to Charlotte Sosebee, interim elections director for the county.

Turnout will prove important for the candidates in the runoff.

A poll released Friday showed both Deal and his opponent, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, in a dead heat for the Republican nomination for governor.

Both candidates had the support of 46 percent of likely voters surveyed by Insider Advantage via telephone Thursday.

Of those 514 surveyed, 8 percent said they still had not decided who to vote for in Tuesday's runoff election.

The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Insider Advantage CEO Matt Towery said the survey showed the state's 9th U.S. House District, where Deal served consecutively for 17 years, might have the highest turnout in the state behind metro Atlanta.

Complete turnout information for early voting, which ended Friday, won't be available from other counties across the state until Monday, said Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

But with only one day to go in early voting, 9,373 voters from Deal's home congressional district - where the Gainesville Republican received the most support in the July 20 primary - had cast a ballot by the close of business Thursday, the secretary of state's office reported.

Hall County had greater turnout than Fulton, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, which include more registered voters than most other counties in the state.

Handel held the most support in those three counties in the July 20 primary.

South of metro Atlanta area, however, interest in casting an early ballot hasn't been as high. No voters had shown up to vote early in Long, Randolph or Treutlen counties by the close of business Thursday. A combined total of 27 people cast votes in Calhoun, Charlton, Chattahoochee, Echols and Quitman counties.

In all, 51,855 ballots had been submitted across the state by Thursday.

Before the July primary, early voters in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Chatham counties turned out in greater numbers than any other county in the state.

Tuesday's winner will oppose Democratic nominee and former Gov. Roy Barnes and Libertarian John Monds in November.

Towery said he believes the nomination will be determined in the last 48 hours.

"Clearly this race is far closer than some of the private or partisan polls which have been released might suggest," Towery said.

 

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