The Times will take a look at the upcoming municipal elections over the next several Sundays, including:
Sunday: Interest seems to wane when the election calendar turns to municipal elections, but some local small towns are breaking this trend.
Oct. 18: A rundown of the races and issues across Northeast Georgia.
Oct. 25: Taking a closer look at the nonbinding referendums in Gainesville to elect the city’s mayor and school board chairman.
Nov. 1: A voter’s guide to the 2009 municipal elections.
Early voting for Gainesville elections begins today at the Hall County Elections Office.
The early voting period will last through Oct. 30 and Election Day is Nov. 3.
Registered voters can come to the elections office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday was the last day to register to vote in the November municipal elections.
Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said she expects a small turnout for early voting.
“There’s usually a low turnout in the city elections,” Sosebee said. “It just seems that the governors race and the presidential race usually bring out more of a voter turnout.”
In the last general election for Gainesville in 2007, Sosebee said a dismal 3.76 percent of voters cast ballots.
Sosebee said she predicts a better turnout this year, maybe 25 percent of registered voters, because of the referendum questions on the ballot.
Gainesville voters will consider a referendum that will allow them to elect the mayor, who now is appointed by the City Council.
They will also vote on a similar referendum on electing the school board chairman, who is currently appointed by board members.
On Election Day, voters in Gainesville will cast ballots at the Civic Center, Fair Street Neighborhood Center or the Georgia Mountains Center, depending on their voting ward.
The cities of Flowery Branch, Oakwood, Lula, Clermont and Gillsville all have seats up for election. Voters in those towns will cast ballots at each town’s city hall both during the early voting periods and on Election Day.
Early voting for those cities is set to begin next week. Gillsville and Oakwood will not be holding early voting because there are no contested races in those towns.
Voting also is scheduled in cities in Jackson, Lumpkin, Dawson, Habersham, Banks and White counties.