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Turnout steady across Hall
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Poll Clerk Kathleen Bonds, left, helps Diana Swanson with her ballot card Tuesday afternoon at the New Holland precinct.

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

About 250 voters had cast ballots at the Brenau Downtown Center by noon, a promising turnout, particularly in a mid-term election, said Poll Manager Evelyn Crain.

Joseph Kelenfy, a Gainesville resident, said he voted 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 are this year, a sentiment shared by many voters across Gainesville whatever their political affiliation.

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

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

At the Fair Street Neighborhood Center, about 160 voters had passed through by noon, including Martez Allen.

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. Congress 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 240 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.

Some problems were reported with voting machines at a polling precinct in Chestnut Mountain, which prompted Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee to issue a reminder to voters to double-check their ballot.

One local voter contacted The Times this morning about 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. “Pretty sure there was another machine next to me having the same issue.”

Sosebee said she was aware of the problem.

“As a safeguard, the voter is given the opportunity before hitting ‘cast’ to review the ballot,” she said.

That appears to be how Smith caught the problem.

“The only reason I caught the changed votes was during the review process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s “My Voter Page” crashed early this 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 appears to now be operating without any glitches.

Polls remain open until 7 p.m.

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