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Early primary voting starts Monday

LAWRENCEVILLE - Last time around, voters packed the county courthouse. They stood in lines for hours, some of them spending the entire workday waiting their turns to cast a ballot.

With all those people, the courthouse was hot and comfortable chairs were scarce.

This time, though, elections officials are prepared for a week of early voting, which will begin Monday.

They have extra voting machines at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, plus machines at two satellite locations.

The voter turnout is expected to be much lower during this year's primary than the 2004 general election, which included a hard-fought presidential election.

"We'll have pockets during the day, I don't even expect an hour wait, if that, at any time," said Elections Supervisor Lynn Ledford. "We are hoping we can catch people on their way home in the afternoon."

That's why Ledford chose two sites near major thoroughfares - the Singleton Road Activities Building off Jimmy Carter Boulevard and the Centerville Community Center of Ga. Highway 124.

While early voting will be held at the justice center from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, the satellite locations will stay open until 7 p.m.

On Friday, members of the elections staff and the elections board certified electronic machines to cast ballots and tally the totals.

Officials also worked on new ExpressPoll machines that will provide an electronic download of the state's voter registration roles. Staff member Janice Williams said the technology would provide for more efficient check-in procedures and allow poll workers to tell someone where to go if they arrive at the wrong precinct.

"The poll workers are going to be nervous about it, but it's a good system," she said.

At the time, staffers were waiting to hear from a judge on a new voter ID law, but Williams said the county was prepared for any ruling.