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2008 Guide to the Primary
Small turnout expected Tuesday

LAWRENCEVILLE - For months now, the attention of the world has been on the race for the White House.

But for local and state government some of the most contentious races will take a turn Tuesday.

That's when the GOP nominees for three Gwinnett commission seats, including the powerful chairman, will be decided. There are seven contested primaries for legislative positions and a Democratic race for a school board seat.

Plus, officials are anxiously awaiting the results of a few questions that will determine the county's future, including a referendum that could allow the county to use tax allocation districts to revitalize blighted communities.

Ballot questions on both the Republican and Democrat tickets will also provide an unofficial survey on how people feel about the extension of the MARTA rail system in Gwinnett - an idea that proved unpopular two decades ago but that many see as instrumental to freeing up the county's congestion.

"In this day of fuel problems we have, we need all the public transit we can get," Lawrenceville resident Robert Nowell said as he left the county elections office after casting his ballot earlier this week.

Nowell is having surgery Monday, so he and his wife and son decided to take advantage of the week-long early voting period. By the end of the day Thursday, about 3,224 ballots had been cast.

Based on that trend, Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford expects a turnout of between 22 and 30 percent of the county's nearly 400,000 voters to come to the polls - lower than the traditional turnout at a primary.

"There's so much concentration on the presidential election that people don't realize these are the people who tell you to cut your grass and not water it - your everyday life," Ledford said, adding that the summer time frame does not help combat voter apathy. "I just don't think it's a priority."

To cast ballots on Tuesday, registered voters must bring photo identification to the polls.