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75 percent turnout in Gwinnett Tuesday

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A high turnout of conservative voters in Gwinnett Tuesday helped keep Georgia a red state, on a day when vote totals nationwide gave Democrat President Barack Obama a second term.

The county's tally for president reflected the state's, with Republican Mitt Romney pulling in slightly more support in Gwinnett. He garnered more than 54 percent of the vote, compared to Obama's nearly 45 percent.

But for the first time in decades, the party lost its tight grip on local politics, with the re-election of Louise Radloff. Radloff was one of the county's first elected Republicans 40 years ago, but she switched parties on the ballot this year, giving the Democrats a seat on the Gwinnett school board.

Statewide, the results came close to giving the GOP a supermajority in the Georgia Senate, which could help the party in driving constitutional amendments through the Legislature.

Turnout was high in Gwinnett, with lines of an hour and a half at some of the busiest precincts, said county spokesman Joe Sorenson, although some polls had only 10-minute waits.

The 296,875 ballots cast in Georgia's second-largest county represented 75 percent of the registered voters, compared to about 72 percent turnout statewide.

The number was about 5,000 more than participated in the 2008 election, although with 20,000 more registered voters, the percentage for the battle that gave Obama his first term was just below 70 percent.

More than 100,000 voted early, either by absentee ballot or in-person voting.