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Voting goes smoothly, but turnout lower than expected
Pittman Park busiest precinct
110408 ELECTION DAY 04 web
Voters pack into the polls at Register Tuesday.

Election2008

Election Day in Bulloch 2008

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     Bulloch County voting officials said Election Day went smoothly, but voters at one Statesboro precinct had to battle long lines throughout the day.
     "I'm happy to see the large turnout and I salute our poll workers for handling the turnout," said Lee DeLoach, who runs Bulloch elections and won reelection Tuesday as probate court judge.
     While about 4,000 more people voted in Bulloch in the 2008 presidential election than 2004, voter turnout dropped from 74.6 percent in 2004 to 68 percent this year. DeLoach speculated a lack of local contested races may have kept turnout low. DeLoach's probate judge race was the only race in Bulloch that was contested.
     After an early-morning rush created long lines at some of Bulloch's 16 precincts, crowds at polls the rest of the day were steady, but not overwhelming.
      At 12:30 p.m., there wasn't much of a line at the William James polling place. Voters were able to walk in, cast their ballots and walk out within a few minutes.
      Alaina Davis, a student at the Performance Learning Center who was volunteering at the polls, said that there had been a long line about an hour earlier.
      "There have been a lot of people so far," she said. "We're expecting more people later."
Just after voting, Shatheria Young said she was able to go right in. The first-time voter was there to "make history," but plans to keep voting.
      "This is a big election because of the people who are running," she said. "It's a big change."
      The voting situation was different across town at the Pittman Park United Methodist Church polling place, as a line snaked out of the building, almost wrapping around one of the long sides of the church as voters stood in an on-again, off-again misting rain.
      Lin Roberts, the poll manager for Pittman Park, said the line had been long all morning. The earliest voters arrived at 5:05 a.m. to wait for the 7 a.m. poll opening. By noon, about 950 people had voted. Long lines were the rule all day, and the last ballot wasn't cast until 9:04 p.m. - more than two hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Election laws allow anyone in line at 7 p.m. to cast a ballot.
      "We have more first-time voters, newly registered voters here than ever before," he said.
     DeLoach and Roberts said the lines at Pittman Park were due to the large numbers of college students who wanted to vote. The lines at that location were consistently the longest all day, DeLoach said.
      "Once they get inside, it goes well," DeLoach said. "We expected long lines, and this is the only precinct where we've had any long lines."
      Adria Smith was midway through the line, almost inside the building - and under shelter -by around 1 p.m. She'd arrived an hour earlier, and was expecting at least another half-hour before getting to vote. She wasn't frustrated, though.
      "I'm just pleasantly waiting," she said.
      At 20, Smith was a first-time voter.
      "It's so different this year," she said. "Our country needs some leadership. It's important that we vote to get some stuff changed."
      Further back in the line, voter Patrick Mims felt like the long line was worth it. He'd been waiting about 20 minutes, but said he wasn't worried about making a 3 p.m. class at Georgia Southern.
"It's my duty to vote," he said. "The weather's not too good, but it's worth it."
      The line at Pittman Park was dominated by young voters like Mims, who is 22 and registered a couple of months ago on campus.
      "If young people would vote more, we would have more pull," he said.
      Brandishing a cane for reporters outside the Fair Road precinct, Sue Whaley said she just had to come out and vote, even though she thought her candidate - John McCain - was going to lose.
      "I feel that probably Obama will win, but I think that if he wins the country as we see it now and how we live will be changed forever," she said. "There's no going back."
      Her husband, John, said he didn't have anything to say against either candidate. "History's being made today," he said.
      The two arrived at the precinct around 11:30 a.m., and the voting process went quickly for both.
      Voter Nick Propps said the Fair Road voting process went smoothly during the morning. "We tried to do early voting at the courthouse, and actually there were long lines," he said. "We wound up just waiting until today, and it was pretty smooth."
      Poll officer Dan Foglio said the morning was rough at Fair Road with 200-foot lines, but went down quickly. "If you vote now, you're in and out in less than three minutes," he said around noon.
      A poll worker for the last decade, Foglio said that the lines at the precinct were shorter than they were in 2004, when the weather was better. He attributed the change to early and advance voting.
      A little after 5 p.m., there wasn't much of a line at all at the Primitive Baptist precinct, which came as a surprise to voter Greg Lanier.
      "I was at work, and got off, and figured I was going to be in a long line," he said. "It didn't matter, I didn't care how long it was."
      At 43, Lanier said he was voting for the first time, and casting his Presidential ballot for Obama.
      "I'm always telling people to vote, and I never did vote myself," he said. "I've got three grown kids, and I encouraged them to vote, too."
      Deloach said that the large numbers of first-time voters complicated the process at times. Some voters headed to the wrong polling place.
      "Everybody wants to cast their ballot, and you can't blame them for that. They just really turn out," he said.
      The one thing that DeLoach said he'd improve is the number of phone lines into the registrar's office.  Large numbers of people needed to be verified as voters, and he said that some registrations made while voters were getting their drivers' licenses hadn't filtered through to the voter rolls.
      "We're finding that tends to have a lot of problems," he said. "They don't make it from there to the voter registrar's office."
      Early voting of 8,600 took a lot of pressure off at the polls, he said. Overall, the day ran well, DeLoach said, with periods of workers being swamped, and then time to catch up.
      "We are staying on top of it and trying to satisfy everybody. Sometimes everybody doesn't get satisfied," he said. "Anything that we're experiencing tonight is not unusual. My poll workers do a good job."
      DeLoach said that he was expecting that voter participation would meet or exceed his projection of 79 percent.
     Poll managers took their results to the Bulloch County Courthouse for vote counting.
   
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