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Bulloch voter turnout 'steady but slow'
071508 VOTING LANIER 1
Josh Lanier, a Democrat running for the United States Senate, prepares to cast his vote in Tuesday's primary election with wife Lynne, left, at the William James Education Complex. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Bulloch County polls were unusually quiet Tuesday, as less than 10 percent of registered voters cast ballots in Georgia's General Primary Election.
    "We've had a pretty steady but slow day," said Lin Roberts, precinct manager at Pittman Park United Methodist Church.
    Bulloch County Probate Judge Lee DeLoach, who oversees elections in Bulloch County, said he attributed the sluggish voter turnout to the fact there were no local contested races.
    "The general primary election usually has a big turnout," DeLoach said, "but this year there are no high-profile local races. When voters don't personally know the candidates, it often becomes less of a priority to come out and vote in the primaries."
    In 2004, when the ballot was full of local races, more than 38 percent of eligible Bulloch voters turned out to the polls.
    Several Bulloch voters who did vote Tuesday expressed their commitment to voting in all elections.
    "We've come out to vote in just about every election since we've been eligible," said Statesboro resident Bob McMahon. "I want to have a say about who's going to be in office. People who get elected to office have a lot of responsibility, and as a voter, I have the responsibility to be a part of the process that puts these people in office."
    Bob and Kim Martin, two retired Georgia Southern University employees, said they always vote, and discussed some issues that brought them to the polls.
    "The economy is, of course, a very important issue with the prices of both gas and food," Kim Martin said.
    "The Iraq war seems to be taking care of itself because both sides want out," Bob Martin said.
    Another Bulloch voter, John Marshall, was more specific in his hopes for the election results.
    "Honestly, I'd like to see the House and Senate go back to the Republicans," Marshall said.
    The most prevalent topic of discussion among voters and precinct officials alike was the presidential election in November.
    County Commissioner Anthony Simmons had just returned from a family vacation Monday and was out at the polls to cast his vote Tuesday.
    "I try not to miss an election," Simmons said. "And I sure am not going to miss this year's presidential race. It's such a historical election. I never thought that in my lifetime I would see a guy running for president that looked like me."
    Simmons is black.
    Roberts said the slow primary election gave him an opportunity to train new poll workers and to practice conducting an efficient election in preparation of the much-anticipated November election.
    "We do expect a heavy turnout in November, so this election has given us an opportunity to work out little procedural details so that we can run a competent election in the fall. We haven't had any complaints today, and all of our equipment has worked exactly how it's supposed to," Roberts said.
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