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Local races go to polls today
Voters will have to show a photo ID for first time
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GAINESVILLE — Election Day is here.

Voters will head to the polls today to cast ballots in three local races: Clermont City Council, Flowery Branch City Council and the Gainesville City Board of Education.

"We’re ready," said Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter, interim elections director for Hall County.

On Monday, workers delivered touchscreen units to the three precincts in Gainesville where the school board election will be held: the Georgia Mountains Center, Gainesville Civic Center and Gainesville Community Service Center.

Each precinct will have three of the electronic voting machines, Hunter said.

Only one of the precincts has a contested race. Eric Oliver and Sammy Smith are vying for the school board’s Ward 5 seat to replace incumbent Frank Harben, who is not seeking re-election.

In Clermont, four people are running for three vacant seats on the town’s five-member council: John Brady, Emily Harper, Albert Reeves and Seth Weaver.

Brady and Weaver are incumbents and Councilman Bill Jones is not seeking re-election.

Clermont City Clerk Sandra Helton said she expects anywhere from 75 to 125 voters to cast ballots.

Helton said she is looking forward to spending time with the poll workers and talking with the residents who come in to vote.

"I think it will be a fun day to see a lot of people," she said. "That’s the beauty of being in a small town."

Clermont’s election will be held at the town hall on Dean Street.

In Flowery Branch, four candidates are in a race for two seats on the City Council.

Craig Lutz and Jim Herold are vying for Post 1. Kellin Dobbs and Chris Fetterman are running for the Post 2 seat.

Herold, a four-year council member, is the only incumbent running.

Voting will be at Flowery Branch City Hall on 5517 Main St.

As far as voter turnout for today, officials aren’t sure how many people to expect. Last week’s early voting brought in low numbers.

Clermont had half a dozen early voters. Flowery Branch had about 45, and the school board race drew 89 advanced votes.

Hunter said she expects fewer than 10 percent of Hall’s registered voters to participate in this year’s election. She said the numbers are likely so low because there aren’t many contested races.

Residents who are voting today need to remember to bring with them one of six acceptable forms of photo identification.

The following forms of ID are acceptable: Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID; a Georgia driver’s license, even if expired; valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency or entity of the United States government, Georgia or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state.

A valid U.S. passport, military photo ID and tribal photo ID will also be accepted.

"If they have any questions concerning the election, just give our office a call," Hunter said. "We’re also handling calls for the cities of Clermont and Flowery Branch."

Though voters previously had to show identification to vote, a state law implemented in September now requires that identification must have a photo.

Today’s election will be the first time Hall County voters have had to show photo identification.