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Hall County draws 56 percent of registered voters
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Statewide 47%
Hall County 56%

Turnout was steady at polling places across Hall County on Election Day as voters cast ballots in highly competitive races for governor and the U.S. Senate.

More than 44,300 ballots were cast in the county, for a turnout of 56.19 percent.

“I’m pretty much satisfied with the total number of voters that turned out today,” said Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee. “I wish it had been little bit higher. My prediction was 60 to 65 percent.”

But turnout was higher this year than in the last midterm election cycle in 2010.

A little less than 44,000 ballots were cast that year for a turnout of 56.04 percent.

In 2012, a presidential election year when turnout is typically much higher, Hall County had 23,882 early voters, 2,931 mail-in/absentee ballots returned and 34,749 ballots cast on Election Day.

Total turnout in 2012 was 70.09 percent.

Poll Manager Evelyn Crain said turnout was strong at the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville.

That’s where Joseph Kelenfy, a Gainesville resident, said he cast ballots for Republican candidates because he is worried about the state of the economy.

Kelenfy said empty retail space and a tight job market motivated him to vote for political conservatives.

Kelenfy also said he was motivated to vote because of how competitive many races there were this year across the state, a sentiment shared by many voters across Hall County despite their political affiliation.

It’s been a number of years since Democrats fielded candidates with viable shots to win.

Gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter and U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn benefited from the name-brand recognition they brought to each campaign.

At the Fair Street Neighborhood Center, Martez Allen, a Gainesville resident, said he voted for Carter and Nunn, in part, because he’s concerned about health care and the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

However, Allen said he voted for Doug Collins over David Vogel in the 9th District U.S. House of Representatives race.

Meanwhile, Charity and Sada Wheeler said they voted for Democrats up and down the ballot.

Both said they were inspired to support Carter and Nunn because each candidate had a legitimate chance of winning.

At the old East Hall library branch, Mike Accettura, a Vietnam veteran, said he, too, was motivated by the close races for governor and U.S. Senate.

Accettura was one of about 250 voters to cast ballots at the precinct by 1 p.m.

While Accettura said he wasn’t fond of some of the negative advertising from Republican candidates, he voted for Deal, Perdue and Collins because they represented the lesser of two evils.

“I was motivated not to vote for (Carter and Nunn),” he said.

Meanwhile, there were a few reports of problems with voting machines at a polling precinct in Chestnut Mountain, which prompted Sosebee to issue a reminder to voters to double-check their ballot.

One local voter contacted The Times to report his experience with an electronic voting machine at the Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church.

“... The machine I used at our precinct changed two of my votes and had other problems scrolling through the ballot,” resident Ryan Smith wrote in an email. “The only reason I caught the changed votes was during the review process.”

Sosebee said she was aware of the problem.

“We have had some of the same calls from managers where this has happened but reminding them the voters are given the last chance to view their ballot before casting,” she added. “Other than that, we are extremely busy with phone calls and visits in the office from voters wanting to know where to vote.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s “My Voter Page” website crashed early Tuesday morning, and voters across Georgia were unable to access information about where to cast their ballots.

Kemp tweeted a phone number for the state elections division about 8:30 a.m., asking people to call if they needed assistance finding their polling place.

The website was operating again by late morning without any glitches.

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