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Early voting for runoff expected to begin Wednesday
5 local GOP races to be decided Aug. 21 after Tuesdays primary
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Hall County primary runoff

When: Early voting runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 8-17; absentee ballots available starting Aug. 10.

Where to vote: Hall County Elections Office, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

With the ink barely dry on results from Tuesday’s primary, voters now face a second round to decide several races.

Early voting for the Aug. 21 runoff is expected to begin Wednesday and run through Aug. 17.

Voters can cast ballots at the Hall County Elections Office, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other counties will hold early voting at various locations.

Absentee ballots will be mailed starting Aug. 10. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Aug. 17.

Registered voters who did not take part in the primary still are able to vote in the runoff. Voters who cast ballots in the Republican and nonpartisan primaries are eligible for the runoff as well.

Hall County drew a 34.5 percent turnout of registered voters in the primary, once all provisional and absentee ballots were counted.

Hall Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee predicts an 18 percent turnout for the runoff. The last runoff in 2008 brought out only 6.7 percent of voters.

But the next round this year will feature five GOP runoffs for seats in the U.S. House, Hall Board of Commissioners chairman, sheriff, tax commissioner and probate judge.

In in the 9th District House race, state Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk show host Martha Zoller will settle the Republican nomination. Collins edged Zoller by a mere 741 votes out of more than 109,000 votes cast in the new 20-county district.

The third-place finisher, Roger Fitzpatrick of Cleveland, earned 17 percent of the vote but has declined to endorse either Collins or Zoller.

The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Jody Cooley of Gainesville in November. Cooley was unopposed as the only Democrat qualifying for the seat.

In the Hall chairman’s race, former sheriff Dick Mecum will face incumbent Tom Oliver, with no Democrat qualified for the November ballot.

Mecum earned 46 percent of the primary vote to Oliver’s 34 percent. Former Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey trailed with 19 percent of the vote.

In a five-man race for sheriff, Gerald Couch and Jeff Strickland emerged as the runoff finalists. Strickland, former chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, earned 33 percent of the primary vote to 31 percent for Couch, a former lieutenant for the Sheriff's Office and former Gainesville assistant chief of police.

The tax commissioner race will pit Darla Eden against Kent Henderson. Eden earned 39 percent of the vote and Henderson 23 percent in a four-person race.

The probate judge runoff matches Patty Walters Laine against Brook Davidson. Laine took 31 percent of the vote Tuesday to Davidson’s 26 percent, with two other candidates close behind.

No Democrats qualified in the races for sheriff, tax commissioner or probate judge.

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