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Runoffs for U.S. Senate, PSC
Radloff ekes out victory for 10th term on school board

LAWRENCEVILLE - Georgians have another month to contend with the hotly contested campaign for U.S. Senate.

Unofficial results show incumbent Saxby Chambliss will face off with Democrat Jim Martin on Dec. 2, after neither reached a majority Tuesday.

After the sun rose Wednesday, Gwinnett School Board member Louise Radloff learned she had secured a 10th term, coming out about 1,300 votes ahead of Democratic challenger Ravindra Kumar.

At one point election night, the two were tied, but paper absentee ballots pulled Radloff ahead.

The score wasn't settled, though, in the Public Service Commissioner race, where Democrat Jim Powell and Republican Lauren "Bubba" McDonald ended in a virtual dead heat.

And two Norcross council races will be decided in December - Ross Kaul and Michelle Crofton will battle it out, as will Andrew Hixson and Jan McKinney.

Secretary of State Karen Handel said she would wait until next week to officially call for the runoffs, as elections offices continued to tally results.

In Gwinnett, elections officials finally finished a process to transfer votes off of about 14,000 flawed absentee ballots. The process to duplicate the votes onto correct forms - after the original ballots were found to have ovals too thick to be read by optical scanning machines - took more than 25 hours.

Paired with 88,496 in-person advanced voters, the 28,303 absentee ballots meant more than 40 percent of the votes cast in Gwinnett came during early voting.

The 68.99 percent voter turnout was well below the expected 88 to 90 percent officials projected after long early voting lines, but Gwinnett's Deputy Elections Director Regina Clark said the number is respectable.

"I don't know (why), but I can't complain because 68 percent is an excellent turnout," she said. "It's too bad we don't get that all the time; 80 percent would have been great but 68 or 69 percent is good."

Statewide, about 3.9 million people voted in the general election - about 74.1 percent of active voters, Handel said. That's a higher number than 2004, when 3.3 million people voted, but a lower percentage compared to 2004's 77 percent.

"On Election Day across the state, voters experienced minimal lines and wait times thanks to the preparation and hard work of our county election officials and poll workers," Handel said. "The work of these individuals makes democracy possible, and I am grateful for their dedication."

On Friday, Gwinnett officials will consider about 200 challenge ballots, from people whose citizenship was questioned during the registration process. The individuals were allowed to vote after a Supreme Court decision last week, but they must prove citizenship this week before the ballots can count.

The votes aren't expected to change the election's results, where Chairman Charles Bannister and Commission Mike Beaudreau were re-elected, along with school board members Radloff, Mary Kay Murphy and Carole Boyce. The only local incumbents to lose office this week were Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden, who lost to attorney Karen Beyers by a vote of 120,721 to 103,121, and Rep. John Heard, a Republican who lost the House District 104 seat to Democrat Lee Thompson 10,396 to 9.461.