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Run-up to runoff trumps expectations
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Forsyth County News

In total, 2,381 Forsyth County voters cast their ballots early for the Aug. 5 runoff election.

That may not seem like a high turnout in a county with more than 87,000 registered voters. But with low turnout expected Tuesday, Chief Voter Registrar Gary J. Smith was surprised "it remained steady all week."

"We ended the week again with the highest number for the week, which has really followed what has happened in the past," Smith said. "I think we're going to show we've had a 35 percent turnout [of the expected overall turnout] for advanced voting."

Early votes ranged daily from 449 to 503. And with the exception of a drop Thursday, more votes were cast each day than the day prior.

All 33 precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Republicans will weigh in on two local races.

Jim Boff and Julie Tressler are competing for the District 5 board of commissioners seat.

The two were the clear leaders in a July 15 field that also included Terry Sweeney and Walter Waddell.

Though Boff led the group, he did not obtain the 50 percent majority needed to win without a runoff.

Clerk of superior court candidates Greg Allen and Charles Adams were in a tight race, but third candidate Walter Brown prevented either from obtaining a majority.

About 11 percent of the votes cast early have been Democratic ballots, which includes only the U.S. Senate race between DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and 18-year state legislator Jim Martin.

The winner will face Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent, in the Nov. 4 general election.

While Smith said early voting helps reduce lines on Election Day, it also is no indication for what total turnout will be like.

"I'm really glad to see that there's been a good turnout so far," he said. "But the whole thing might just be that everybody's going to vote early and nobody's going to vote on Election Day."

Smith, who originally anticipated a 5 percent runoff turnout, has changed his tune, albeit just slightly.

Based on early voting numbers, Smith said turnout could be closer to 7 or 8 percent.

If he's right, nearly half the voters who participated in the July primary election will have returned for the runoff.

"I think it's because the race has become very contentious and the candidates are working very hard to get out their original supporters," he said.