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Low turnout in Bulloch
Only 17 percent cast ballots
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Carol Jones, right, Adrianne McCollar, and Nicole Mills, background, campaign for their favorite candidates across the street from the William James Complex Tuesday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

      With only two contested local races on the ballot Tuesday, it was a slow day for Bulloch County poll workers, but a fast in and out for voters casting their ballots.
      When the votes were totaled at the Bulloch County Courthouse, the final numbers showed how slow it was: only 5,765 people cast ballots - 17.6 percent of registered voters.
      "[The turnout] has been less than what we expected," said Joyce Davis, a poll officer at the Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church precinct at noon on Tuesday. "It's just much slower and much less than it should be. It's steady, but we need more people to come in."
      People who did vote were enthusiastic and saw it as important for democracy.
      "I think every vote makes a difference," Statesboro's Melchor Hines said after she voted at Pittman Park United Methodist Church precinct. "Change is good and I hope we have one. The workers were as nice as they could be and it was as easy as pie."
      Candidates Tom McElwee and Jan Tankersley, who defeated McElwee in the Republican primary for the District 158 seat in the Georgia House, were both campaigning early Tuesday afternoon at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds precinct.
       "This is America. This is what it's all about," McElwee said. "People around the world don't get the opportunity to come and do this. I've lived in seven different countries and I've seen how they operate versus how we operate and let me tell you, it's great when you come back to the United States of America. This is the greatest country there is. We get a chance to express ourselves and make our selection on who we want to represent us. That's what this part is all about."
      Like McElwee, Tankersley spent her day traveling to different Bulloch County precincts in hopes of garnering last minute support.
      "It's been exciting the past two days, really," she said. "I look forward to celebrating either a victory or celebrating the fact that it's just over, because campaigning isn't easy. It's hard, it takes a lot of money and a lot of dedication, but I feel like over the years I've been prepared to take on this next level of government. I feel like I'm only the candidate that's been really involved in civic organizations and served as a community volunteer. I feel like I really know my district and I know what the needs are."
      Reed Smith, a professor of broadcasting at Georgia Southern University, saw voting as his duty.
      "I think [voting] is an American right that we should exercise," he said. "It's part of our freedoms, so I think that's important. I had heard that there would be a low turnout and, therefore, I thought I should come out."
      Linda Rushing had another reason to come out and vote.
      Rushing said that her close friend's first cousin is running in the gubernatorial race. She said her excitement for that race was part of the reason she decided to vote in the primary election.
      "I voted for Nathan Deal not just because he is my friend's cousin but because I felt like he would be the best candidate for the job," she said.

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