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Voters turn out early in record numbers in Hall, Georgia
Elections director predicts strong turnout for Election Day
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Voters stand in line on the first floor of the Hall County Government Center in Gainesville during early voting Friday afternoon. With the large crowds, some voters were saying they waited about an hour to cast their vote. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Record early voting turnout
Ballots cast

• Hall County: 34,921 (about 1,000 more than in 2008)

• State: 2.39 million (about 700,000 more than in 2008)

Whether they voted for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton — or even Mickey Mouse — early voters in Hall County expressed a kind of joyous relief at the polls on Friday about nearing the end of a presidential election that has been as bitter and outrageous as any in recent memory.

With her arm raised and clenched fist pumping, resident Lucille Snedaker had just one word to say in response to her feelings that Election Day couldn’t come soon enough: “Yes!”

A random selection of a dozen voters leaning conservative and liberal voiced similar sentiments after exiting the polls at the Hall County Government Center, the site of the last day of early voting.

And perhaps this shared exasperation with the campaign helps explain why record numbers of voters in Hall and across Georgia cast their ballots early this year.

On Friday, nearly 3,200 county residents voted, a single-day record.

Wait times neared an hour, according to several voters in line in the late afternoon, and the last voter cast their ballot at 6:25 p.m., nearly an hour and a half after polls closed.

Strong turnout all last week pushed the total early voting turnout to 34,921, which surpassed the record set in 2008 by about 1,000 votes.

In addition, Hall Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said about 3,000 absentee and 200 overseas military ballots had been received by Friday.

Across the Peach State, more than 2.3 million ballots were cast during early voting, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, breaking the 2008 record of 2.13 million.

Sosebee said her initial estimate for total voter turnout in Hall after Election Day was 69 percent, but she is now confident it will at least match the 76 percent reached in 2008.

There are 108,645 eligible voters in Hall this election cycle.

For resident Lisa Lawson, voting was a way to move forward after the contentious campaigning of the last 18 months.

“Enough is enough,” she said, adding that the “craziness” had taken its toll.

“I’m ready for it to be over,” Lawson added.

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