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Advance voting proves popular

By Ed Brock

Nancy Sanders of Riverdale is going to be on vacation Tuesday, and so on Friday she found herself fighting the crowd for the last day of advanced voting.

"I've been waiting for an hour," Sanders said as she finally stepped to the counter at the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registrations Office in Jonesboro to receive her ballot.

Friday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for advanced voting, a process that began Monday and in which anybody who wanted to go ahead and exercise their democratic rights could do so without explanation. By Monday the voters will have to provide a reason for using an absentee ballot.

As of Thursday the Clayton County office had processed around 1,711 advance and absentee ballots, Elections Director Annie Bright said.

Sanders said she wasn't very happy with her long wait Friday, but Doris Flowers of Riverdale, who was voting early because on Tuesday she will be taking her mother to the doctor, was impressed.

"I think they're doing a great job," Flowers said. "They seem to know exactly what they're doing as far as giving you the information."

Bright, barely sparing a moment from inputting information into a computer to say the process was going well.

"We've been getting a lot of compliments about how efficient we've been," Bright said.

In Henry County, also as of Thursday, Director of Elections Jane Shellnutt and her staff had processed 1,316 advance and absentee ballots.

"That's 300 a day," Shellnutt said. "We set a record (Friday with more than 500 ballots processed.)"

Louise McMickle and her husband Wayne cast their first advance ballots Friday. Though they traditionally voted absentee, the McMickles of Locust Grove decided to come down in person.

"I have a conflict on election day and it interferes with my traveling," Wayne McMickle said.

And Louise McMickle, having yet to vote, didn't want to comment on the process until she was finished.

"I've kind of got mixed emotions about it," she said. "It's the first time and I'm just going to have to see how it works."

Shellnutt said a camera is set up in the office where the votes will be counted so that those gathered at the Henry County Administration Building to view the returns can watch the poll workers tally the results.

"It won't be just figures, they'll be able to see us in the trailer," Shellnutt said.

There will be observers from the Republican and Democratic parties present, Shellnutt said.

Bright said Clayton County residents can once again be able to watch the votes come in at the cafeteria in the Harold R. Banke Justice Center on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro, or on the county's Web site at www.co.clayton.ga.us.

Daily Herald reporter Michael Davis contributed to this article.