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Watching election results takes on game-like atmosphere

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Daniel Espeut of Lawrenceville and Russell Manley of Johns Creek watch televisions at McCray's Tavern in downtown Lawrenceville awaiting the results from the presidential election on Tuesday. "I came here to eat dinner, but when the soon to be leader of the free world is on tv it's hard not to watch," said Manley.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Daniel Espeut of Lawrenceville and Russell Manley of Johns Creek watch televisions at McCray's Tavern in downtown Lawrenceville awaiting the results from the presidential election on Tuesday. "I came here to eat dinner, but when the soon to be leader of the free world is on tv it's hard not to watch," said Manley.

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Photo: Anthony Stalcup U.S. Congrassman Rob Woodall (R) talks with Georgia Gwinnett College student's Kevin Moran, left, Rachel Jean-Baptiste and Erin Hennessey, right, during an election night party held on campus Tuesday night.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- By the time Daniel Espeut cast his ballot at his Lawrenceville polling place Tuesday, workers had run out of the Georgia peach "I voted" stickers. So they handed him a post-it note.

But Espeut was still proud to proclaim he voted, when he traded a fellow restaurant-goer for her sticker while he lead a game of trivia later that night.

"Think of all the countries who don't get to do this," Espeut said. "We get this privilege. If you have the right to vote, you should exercise it."

Espeut slid up to the bar at McCray's Tavern in Lawrenceville after the game ended, catching up on a still-close race for the presidency.

The returns, he said, didn't distract trivia players too much.

"I don't feel like the returns are going to be interesting until about 11 tonight," said Kim Miller, who took the post-it.

Although she didn't say who she voted for, she said she is worried the process could carry on for weeks.

Bree Johnson was also nervous, as she joined in another game of trivia at Georgia Gwinnett College, where the political science club hosted an election night watch party.

"I still want to see (President Barack Obama) move the country forward," she said, adding that she appreciated his work on education initiatives.

Johnson celebrated her 23rd birthday at the event, surrounded by friends and snacking on free pizza.

That was what organizer Katheryn Nikolich had hoped for when she destined the event to bring together Republicans and Democrats.

"We are showing people different ways of looking at the election," she said of the room, divided by party but where people where encouraged to mingle from one side to the other. "You can have opposing opinions but still be friends."

Back at McCray's, Trent Spurgeon ordered some food after a long day of working at the polls.

After dropping off the results, he checked to see the national returns -- still deadlocked at 10 p.m.

Mostly, he was glad to see the enormous number of people coming to the polls.

All told, more than half of Gwinnett's nearly 400,000 registered voters cast ballots, with more than 100,000 participating in early or absentee voting.

"It's hugely important for the nation to make its desires known about how they want the country to move forward," Spurgeon said. "It's somewhat staggering to see how many people are interested in this year's election."