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Handel predicts 80-85 percent voter turnout

DULUTH - Secretary of State Karen Handel said she predicts 80 to 85 percent of the electorate will vote in the November election.

Handel spoke before a group of business and civic leaders at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, kicking off a "hobnob" with candidates from the general election.

"Beyond the presidential race, there are some really important other offices up for your vote, from county commissioners to legislators to judges," Handel said.

Handel said 303,000 people newly registered to vote between Dec. 1, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2008, compared to 283,000 who were new registrants over the same period prior to the 2004 presidential election. She called the number a "natural presidential surge," but encouraged people to participate in early voting before Nov. 4.

"If you think about having the practicality of having 4 million people do the same thing in one day in 12 hours, it makes sense to offer the voters some alternatives," she said. "It will help us be able to manage things better on Election Day."

The "hobnob" featured about a dozen candidates with fliers, fans and balloons set on tables, divided into incumbents and challengers.

"I think this is a great format. That's what people want is the one-on-one time," said House District 103 member David Casas. "There is something democratic about coming up to your elected officials and their opponents and being able to hear both sides."