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Voting for runoff cranks up Monday
Elections chief expects low turnout
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Forsyth County News

Early voting for the Aug. 5 runoff election begins Monday.

Gary J. Smith, Forsyth County's director of elections, anticipates 5 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot for the runoff, which features two local races on the Republican side.

All registered voters can participate in the runoff, even if they didn't vote in the primary.

Voters who did vote in the primary cannot switch parties, though first-time voters can choose whichever party they want, Smith said.

"I have a list of everybody who voted," he said. "We maintain the list and register their [party] choice with the state too. A runoff is just a continuation of the original election ... you can't switch parties if you voted already."

Voters can, however, switch sides for the Nov. 4 election.

The lower turnout likely will mean the election will cost less to hold than anticipated.

About 16 percent of registered voters participated in the July 15 primary. Based on that, Smith said he thought $30,000 would cover the runoff.

He recently reduced that estimate to $25,000 based on projected turnout.

Just like the primary election, early voting will be held Monday through Friday at several locations. The minimum of four poll workers will be stationed at each site.

Instead of bringing a book to read during the down time, poll workers will spend their free time doing puzzles and word searches, all related to necessary poll information.

"They're learning things like what kind of ID is required, what you do in the event a person comes into the wrong precinct, what do you do when a person is not registered and how to handle a provisional ballot," Smith said.

"We'll use this as a period of time just to confirm things we've done and to make sure everybody is up to speed and ready to go for the general election in November."

Early voting has become increasingly popular for voters and poll workers, Smith said.

Nearly 30 percent of votes cast during the July primary came from early voting. Smith hopes for a similar ratio this week, as more poll workers continue to prepare for the Nov. 4 presidential election.

"It's going to be an absolute madhouse," Smith said of the fall election date. "The good thing is because of the work we did ... we've got 30 percent of people voting early. That's the highest number in the state of Georgia.

"Early voting is critical to us."

Primary Runoff Democratic Sample Balot
Primary Runoff Republican Sample Balot