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Local voters relish opportunity to cast ballot
Turnout nearly 75 percent
Preston Weeks, 19, fills out a voting card Tuesday morning at Gainesville First United Methodist Church as he joined more than 100 other voters shortly after the polls opened to cast his ballot.

For Susan M. Boyd, it wasn’t about the candidates.

After an eye-opening trip to Tanzania, casting her ballot on Election Day was an act of patriotism that brought tears to her eyes.

“I get emotional talking about it,” Boyd said, wiping a tear away. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

She voted at the First Baptist Church on Green Street in Gainesville wearing a patchwork denim vest celebrating her right to vote and featuring Uncle Sam riding a bicycle, patriotic phrases and an American flag.

Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee reported 21,287 votes as of 2 p.m., compared with 24,707 at the same time in 2012. Another 34,921 voted early. There are 108,645 active voters in Hall County.

More than 67,000 Hall residents cast ballots during early voting and on Election Day, a turnout rate of 74.42 percent.

More than 4 million Georgians, representing nearly 3/4 of registered voters cast ballots.

Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee reported 21,287 votes as of 2 p.m., compared with 24,707 at the same time in 2012. Another 34,921 voted early.

Total turnout in 2008 was about 76 percent.

“I have a different respect for our country now,” Boyd said. “It’s an amazing opportunity we have in this country ... We can argue, we can hate each other, but (the election) process still works.”

Boyd visited her son in Tanzania and gained an appreciation for the little things that her American freedom affords her.

“There is so much true chaos there,” Boyd said, noting people don’t follow traffic laws and she was repeatedly shaken down for money.

Michele Kisor, a medical assistant for the Covenant Family Medicine practice, had stronger feelings about the candidates and this election season.

“(The election season) has been crazy,” she said. “Everyone’s opinions are so strong.”

Her husband, John Kisor, joked that if she voted for the wrong person it would drive a wedge between them.

“If people know who they are voting for, it’s a very strong opinion they have,” Kisor said.

Kisor voted at the First Baptist Church as well, and placed her vote before heading off to work.

The church had a line even before 6 a.m., an hour before the polling site opened. Sue Tibbetts, a poll clerk, was surprised by the amount of people waiting.

There was a shorter, but not quite short, line at First United Methodist Church on Thompson Bridge Road around 7:30 a.m.

Poll clerk Jane Lower, who is also a member of the church, said the 2008 election was busier.

“There were 200 people in line ... for Obama’s first-term election,” she said. “We’ve been pretty steady today.”

Preston Weeks was voting in his first national election.

The 19-year-old Gainesville resident said he often watches news programs with his parents and gets some of his political standing from them.

“I think it’s a really bad election,” Weeks said. “I don’t think there were any good options.”

Weeks said he is somewhat involved in the world of politics, but wouldn’t classify himself as an expert.

“I was really surprised when Trump won the primary,” he said.