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'In and out, quick.' Voters, poll managers report smooth runoff election
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Voters cast their ballot Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, at the West Whelchel precinct at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Lines were short and the same COVID-19 precautions from the June primary were in use. - photo by Scott Rogers

Voters had little trouble casting ballots in the runoff Tuesday, Aug. 11, at Hall County’s polling places.  

Many residents reported the process took just a few minutes from start to finish, as they chose candidates in three races -- Georgia’s 9th Congressional District’s Republican and Democratic nominations and the GOP nomination for the Georgia Senate District 50 seat.  

With nearly 10,000 votes between absentee ballots and early voting already accounted for prior to Tuesday, county officials predicted short lines on Election Day, and according to poll managers and voters at various precincts, they were right. Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz said Wednesday of the approximately 122,500 registered voters in Hall, about 19,000 had voted in the runoff.

Election results

View results for the U.S. House 9th District and state Senate District 50 races.

“There was nobody in there when I arrived,” said Philip Wilheit Jr., who voted at Journey Church on Mount Vernon Road. “I went straight in and voted right away. No problem at all.” 

Lisa Nichol, who voted at the East Hall Community Center, had a similar experience.  

“It was as easy as can be,” she said. “In and out, quick. No issues at all.” 

Latoya Castillo, poll manager at Brenau Downtown Center, said no voters had needed more than a few minutes to cast their ballots as of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, attributing the slow day to a high volume of early voting. Of the approximately 2,000 voters assigned to the Brenau Downtown Center voting precinct, Castillo said about half voted early.  

“It’s just been 2, 3 minutes and you’re done,” Castillo said. “Not too much of a wait time at all.” 

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Philip Panos visits the Big Hickory voting precinct Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, at The Journey Church on Mt. Vernon Road. Voters found the same COVID-19 precautions from the June primary were in use. - photo by Scott Rogers

Charles Gridley, poll manager at Flowery Branch Elementary School, reported the same — no hiccups and no wait times throughout the morning.  

He said an increased familiarity with voting machines that were new for the election on June 9 made things easier on poll workers this time around, and as of noon on Tuesday, Gridley said the Flowery Branch Elementary precinct had experienced “no mechanical issues and no technical issues.” 

Gridley said the precinct had been warned that many voters who were registered to vote absentee may choose to come in to vote in person instead, and so his team of poll workers was prepared to handle that process. But only one such voter came in Tuesday morning, he said. 

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Voters cast their ballot Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, at the West Whelchel precinct at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Lines were short and the same COVID-19 precautions from the June primary were in use. - photo by Scott Rogers

“It’s been a trickle all day long, which is what I personally anticipated,” he said. “There hasn’t been a big absence, but there hasn’t been a big rush. It’s been a very steady stream.” 

It was business as usual at the North Hall Community Center Tuesday morning as well, according to poll manager Kim Cantrell, even though the facility was forced to close down early last week due to multiple Hall County Parks & Leisure staff testing positive for COVID-19.  

The North Hall Community Center reopened for early voting on Aug. 5 after closing Aug.3, and Cantrell said as of Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., everything had gone “smooth so far.” 

Annette Williams, one of the first voters at the North Hall Community Center, said the process was simple and quick. Williams said she didn’t have any issues voting in the June 9 election either, adding that the relative ease of voting in Hall County is part of what inspires her to come out and make sure her ballot is cast in every election.  

“In other areas, people do face challenges with long lines,” Williams said. “I consider my vote today to be like a show of solidarity with people who in other areas do face long lines, maybe inexperienced poll workers. My vote today is kind of like a show of support for people in other areas who it’s not just as easy as walking in and walking out.” 

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