EAST FORSYTH – The first week of advance voting for the July 26 Republican primary runoff for the next District 5 commissioner got off to a slow start.
Advance voting for the runoff between candidates Justin Hawkins and Laura Semanson began on Tuesday, July 5, and officials said were hoping to see more voters.
Barbara Luth, Forsyth County’s supervisor of voter registrations and elections, had one word to describe the first week.
“Slow,” she said. “Very, very, slow. We had 93 come in and vote last week in the four days we were open, so we’re hoping maybe it will pick up in the next couple of weeks.”
District 5 covers much of eastern Forsyth around Lake Lanier and has about 27,000 registered voters.
Luth said she expected the runoff to be lighter than the typical numbers for an election and that it was likely that the Independence Day holiday played a role in the turnout.
“It probably had a lot to do with it,” Luth said. “People go on vacation and they didn’t get back, so that’s why we’re hoping this week will pick up.”
Advance voting will continue this week and next. Poll hours during weekdays are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Forsyth County administration building in downtown Cumming.
Polls will be open on Saturday – the only weekend day of advance voting – from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the same location.
On July 26, polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at five precincts in the district.
Luth said her staff is assisting poll workers to help with costs.
“On the poll worker side, it’s gone really well,” she said. “We were using two poll workers and one staff worker down there every day, so our staff is taking up some of the cost for it so we can keep the cost as low as possible.”
The winner of the runoff will replace Commissioner Jim Boff, who did not seek re-election for the seat he has held since 2009.
“Whoever votes in this [runoff] election for commission District 5 are the people that are going to select the commissioner,” Luth said. “If people have a choice on what they want, they need to come out and vote.”
Semanson and Hawkins were the top two vote getters in the May 24 Republican general primary, though neither earned the required 50 percent of votes plus one vote to win outright.
Semanson, who previously worked in the technology industry, received the primary’s most votes with 1,654 – about 43 percent of the total.
Hawkins, a pharmaceutical sales representative, finished with 1,241 votes – about 33 percent.
The race’s third candidate, Chandon Adams, received 914 votes, about 24 percent, and did not qualify for the runoff, which only takes the two with the most votes.
The county administration building is located at 110 E. Main Street in Cumming.
More information, including a sample ballot, can be found here.