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Lower than expected turnout for primary

Democratic runoff is Aug. 5

POSTED: August 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Voter turnout was not what poll workers were anticipating in last Tuesday’s primary election.


Glenda Ferguson, Dawson County chairperson of elections and voter registration, had predicted a 35-37 percent turnout for the primary that included several highly contested races.


To her surprise, turnout was about 10 percent lower than she had hoped, with just 25.5 percent, or 3,217 voters, of the county’s 12,446 registered voters casting ballots.


“With the highly contested races we were having, I would have thought we would have seen a higher turnout,” said Ferguson, who based her prediction on the primaries held four years earlier, which saw 32 percent of registered voters at the polls.


“We had a highly contested race for Tax Commissioner and for Chief Magistrate (four years ago),” Ferguson added. “I would have thought these races would have seen a similar turnout.”


This year’s battle for the commission seats in districts 2 and 4, as well as a three way fight for Chief Magistrate and a challenge to the Probate Judge, were each highly visible races.


Many expected the battle for Chief Magistrate to make its way to a runoff, but Associate Magistrate Judge Lisa Thurmond pulled ahead early and ended the evening with 58 percent of the vote.


“The only runoff we’ll have is for the U.S. Senate race on the Democratic ballot,” Ferguson said.


The Democratic General Primary Runoff is set for Aug. 5 to see which Democrat will face U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss in November.


Neither DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones nor former state legislator Jim Martin received 50 percent of the votes statewide to secure the nomination.


Jones received 195,037 votes (40.3 percent), compared to the 11 he received in Dawson County.


Martin, who received the most votes in Dawson County on the Democrat ticket with 89 votes, tallied 165,846 (34.3 percent) statewide. Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate received 190 votes overall in Dawson County.


Only those who voted on the Democratic ticket in the primary and anyone who did not vote in the primary may vote in the Aug. 5 runoff.


“You must vote with the party you voted with in the primary in the runoff,” Ferguson said.


With a majority of Dawson County voters casting Republican ballots, Ferguson predicts around 50 voters to cast ballots for the runoff.


The race is expected to cost the county at least $9,000.


Polls will be open Aug. 5 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.


Advance voting for the runoff will be held at the election’s office, located at 462 Memory Lane, Suite 150, July 28 through Aug. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


E-mail Michele Hester at



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