During one of the highest Election Day turnouts many could recall, Dawson County residents picked their leaders and approved two homestead exemption matters for senior citizens.
According to Glenda Ferguson, elections and voter registration chairperson, nearly 57 percent of Dawson County’s 12,514 voters cast ballots in the Nov. 2 General Election.
“Of course, we’d like to see 100 percent, but we got nearly 60,” Ferguson said. “That’s not too bad.”
She said the voter turnout rivaled that of the 2008 presidential election.
Voters who stood in line on Election Day to cast their ballots weighed in on possible reasons for such a high turnout.
Debbie Hutson said hot-button topics included “the economy, health care and a lot of other issues people are concerned about these days.”
Added Jeff Lacey: “People are intent on voting this time. People are very passionate about making decisions.”
Lacey also said he assumed the Georgia governor’s race may have had something to do with the high numbers.
In the race for governor, Republican Nathan Deal took nearly 84 percent of the total, or 5,869 votes, in Dawson County, while Democrat Roy Barnes received about 12 percent, or 856 votes, and Libertarian John Monds got about 4 percent, or 287 votes.
Deal, who is from Gainesville, won the office in statewide balloting.
In the election to succeed District 51 state Sen. Chip Pearson, Republican Steve Gooch of Lumpkin County drew 6,056 votes, or nearly 88 percent, in Dawson County to about 12 percent for Democrat Joseph Mann.
Gooch won the seat, carrying the district by a 90 percent to 10 percent margin.
The district covers parts of Dawson, Fannin, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties.
In other state races of note, Dawson County backed two Republican incumbents, both of whom retained their posts: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Cagle carried Dawson with 5,809 votes, or about 83 percent, while Democrat Carol Porter collected 900 votes, or about 13 percent, and Libertarian Dan Barber had 299 votes, or about 4 percent.
Isakson received 6,081 local votes, or about 87 percent. Democrat Mike Thurmond drew 678 votes, or nearly 10 percent, and Libertarian Chuck Donovan got 253 votes, or about 4 percent.
A special election referendum that asked Dawson County voters if they wanted a homestead exemption from school district property taxes for residents age 70 and older passed with 5,072 votes, or about 82 percent.
In a similar referendum question that asked voters whether to increase current homestead exemptions for those disabled or age 65 years and older, the vote was 4,778 to 1,390, or 78 percent, in favor.