Republicans hold steady in Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE - While Democrats celebrated Barack Obama's election to the White House, Republicans remained stalwart in Gwinnett.

Georgia's 15 electoral college votes went to John McCain, as Gwinnett gave the Republican nearly 53 percent of its votes, according to unofficial results with officials still tallying absentee votes at midnight.

The party trend continued throughout the unofficial results, with the GOP keeping control of the county commission and school board, although long-time Board Member Louise Radloff was locked in a tight race with her Democratic challenger at press time.

There were few problems reported at local polls, where voters also decided to extend the county's penny sales tax and send Charles Bannister and Mike Beaudreau back to the Board of Commissioners.

Radloff, who has served 36 years on the school board, outstripped Democrat Ravindra Kumar as early votes were tallied at 1:40 a.m., and officials still waited on absentee ballots. But board members Mary Kay Murphy and Carole Boyce retained their seats, as did Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps and Clerk of Court Tom Lawler.

Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden lost his seat on the bench to attorney Karen Beyers.

John Linder secured a return to Washington, but Lawrenceville's state House member John Heard was ousted by Democrat Lee Thompson in the only surprise of five legislative races.

After days of long lines during the early voting period, where people waited as many as eight hours, the county came in well shy of the 90 percent turnout expected.

Despite some lengthy waits Tuesday morning, the polls were not crowded, and only about 55 percent of registered voters cast ballot, excluding the absentee ballots.

Throughout the day, a crew of nearly 200 election workers transferred votes from more than 10,000 flawed absentee ballots.

The process - which was spurred after officials learned the ovals on ballots were too thick - took more than 15 hours, with monitors from both major political parties looking on. Officials said the process would likely take at least two more hours at midnight.