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Turnout slow as Primary Day arrives
Gainesville IV voting precinct assistant manger Barbara Bruce, left, and clerk Jennifer Jones hang signs on doors at the Brenau Downtown Center.

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What you need to know

Top contested races: Governor, U.S. Senate seat to replace Saxby Chambliss, U.S. House 9th District, Board of Commissioners seat in South Hall, Board of Education at-large and South Hall seats

What to take with you: Photo ID, such as a driver’s license

Election by the numbers

Ballots cast so far in Hall County: 3,030

2,714 Republican

296 Democratic

20 nonpartisan

Total registered voters in Hall: 95,000

Ballots cast statewide: 239,281

147,995 Republican

88,316 Democratic

2,970 nonpartisan

An orange 18-wheeler carrying precious cargo could be seen traversing Hall County thoroughfares Monday, making stop after stop and delivery after delivery in preparation for today’s primary.

The truck pulled up to the Brenau Downtown Center just after 10 a.m. Two young workers hopped out of the cab, walked to the back, rolled up the gate and wheeled a trolley of voting machines down the plank and into Room C.

And that’s where Evelyn Crain awaited with her staff.

Poll workers like Crain were busy Monday setting up 35 voting precincts across the county. Precincts open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. today.

Crain, a resident of Oakwood, has been helping Hall County voters cast their ballots for 15 years, but 2014 marks her first time in the top role as poll manager.

And this is an interesting year to take that next step.

Turnout is typically a bit lagging in primary races to begin with, but it might suffer even more this year for several reasons.

With the primary date moved up on the calendar, many uncontested local races, and the fact it’s a nonpresidential election year, voter enthusiasm could use a shot in the arm. Just look at the numbers so far.

There are about 95,000 registered voters in Hall County. But during three weeks of early voting, just 2,600 ballots were cast, while another 400 absentee returns were mailed in. About 2,700 voters cast Republican primary ballots.

Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said she is hoping turnout will reach 35 percent.

The downtown center is typically one of the busier precincts in the county, but Crain said she was unsure how turnout would fare.

“It’s all up in the air,” she added.

But Crain and her staff were taking every pain to ensure they could handle hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters, preparing just as if turnout would be as good as ever.

Even the American flag had to be placed just right.

Crain said she is hoping people will take voting as seriously as she does. 

“I’ve always voted,” she said. “I think it is a privilege we need to exercise.”

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