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Dawson officials praise record voter turnout, puzzle over lower turnout percentage
Election Night 11.03.20
Short lines and relatively low election day voter turnout was the theme of the day on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, according to Dawson County Election Officials. - photo by Jacob Smith

Dawson County saw record high voter turnout for the 2020 election. 

A total of 16,103 local residents voted in Dawson County during the three week early voting period and on election day, a turnout nearly 4,000 voters higher than the 2016 election.

Despite the record turnout, approximately 5,400 registered voters in Dawson County did not cast a ballot in this election. According to Glenda Ferguson, Dawson County Board of Elections and Registrations Director, more than 81% of registered voters voted in the 2016 election but only about 75% of registered voters voted in this election, bucking the trend that election officials expected for this year. 

“I thought we did good until we compare the numbers to last year,”  Ferguson said after polls closed on Tuesday night. “ I really was expecting more. I really thought we’d do 83-85 percent because people turned out great for advanced voting.”

Dawson County Poll Officer Janet Kidd helping a voter at the central precinct during the Nov. 3 2020 election. - photo by Jacob Smith

Ferguson said that the number of registered voters increased by nearly 7,000 from the 2016 election and that factor could have had some effect on the turnout percentage.  

Approximately 2,600 registered voters in Dawson County submitted their ballots in person on election day. Ferguson said nobody complained about any social distancing issues all day and that other than the internet being “sketchy” at the west precinct, there were no issues with the new touch screen voting tablets. 

“This is maybe the greatest election we’ve ever run,” Ferguson said. “This really has been such a smooth day.” 

Dawsonville Republican Party Chair Seanie Zappendorf said that she was very pleased with the early voter turnout, stating that many people, both young and old, told her this was the first election they voted in.

"Dawson County was the number one County in early voter turnout compared to 2016 turn out and the rest of the time was within the top five," Zappendorf said. 

Zappendorf added that the Dawsonville Republican Party was surprised by the Board of Education vote, but congratulation Nathan Ingram on winning the seat Will Wade vacated. 

"Educator David Yenerall and businessman Mark Sussman's campaign efforts and signs throughout Dawson County came short compared to Nathan Ingram's home-grown advantage," Zappendorf said. 

A voter at the central precinct in the November 3 2020 election. - photo by Jacob Smith
Bette Holland, chair of the Dawsonville Democratic Party said though they knew they would not win, percentages for Democratic nominees were lower than expected. 

"It went well," Holland said. "We got decent percentages but we were hoping for better." 

Both Zappendorf and Holland speculated that voting percentages were lower countywide due to voters assuming their desired candidate would win whether or not their individual vote was cast. 

Casting votes in person and by mail, local voters overwhelmingly elected republican candidates up and down the ballot, and voted yes on two constitutional amendments and a statewide referendum. 

Over 40 poll workers and volunteers arrived at precincts around the county at about 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  

“I love volunteering here,” Carolyn Haywood, a west precinct volunteer said. “I’ve been doing it since 1979 and I’d like to keep doing it until I can’t anymore.” 

Haywood added that the biggest rush of voters during the day was right at opening this morning. 

Poll workers at the west precinct in Dawson County during the Nov. 3 2020 election. - photo by Jacob Smith

However, a west precinct voter who arrived right after 6 p.m., Donna C. Giordano, said that she was glad that she made it to the polls in time and hopes that her vote made an impact on the overall election. 

“I’m 62 years old,” Giordano said after voting. “And this is probably the most important election I have ever voted in.”