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Election Day: Weather may factor in turnout

Photo by Kristen Lowe

Photo by Kristen Lowe

LAWRENCEVILLE -- This year's election has all the makings of a high turnout -- a contentious gubernatorial race and a citizenry rife with anger at local politicians.

But add a little rain and a cold snap, and the numbers could drop.

Gwinnett Elections Director Lynn Ledford is expecting 30 to 40 percent of voters to come out today and said as many as 50 percent could show up. That's above the mark of the typical gubernatorial election year of around 20 percent, but well shy of a presidential year, she notes.

Eight years ago, when Roy Barnes was defeated as governor, the number was around 50 percent, she said. Barnes is back on the ballot as the Democratic candidate facing the GOP's Nathan Deal.

"I'm not sure really what the electorate will do," Ledford said, adding that the cold and rain sometimes decreases turnout.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today throughout the state.

Last week, 25,589 Gwinnettians cast ballots during the early voting period. Including absentee ballots issued, the number this year is less than half the 117,227 who voted early and absentee in 2008.

In addition to the gubernatorial contest, voters in Gwinnett will consider the replacement to retiring U.S. Rep. John Linder, as well as another congressman, two commissioners, a Board of Education member, four state senators, five state House members, the mayor of Lawrenceville, council seats there and in Loganville and a referendum in Norcross.

Despite a number of candidates announcing their intentions as a write-in candidate for the Gwinnett Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor position, election officials said no one had filed paperwork to qualify as a write-in candidate or run a required legal advertisement

"There is a misconception that votes for any write-in candidate will be tabulated," Ledford said. "However, Georgia has laws in place that govern ballot access, including ballot access by write-in candidates."