Georgians head to the voting polls today

By Billy Corriher

Georgia residents have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in deciding who will be running for president by voting in the state's presidential primary today. Voters will also have the chance to pick between two versions of the state flag, the version from 2001 that replaced the flag based on the Confederate battle emblem and the flag with red and white stripes that was approved by the state legislature last year.

Voters can expect a mostly cloudy day with a small chance of rain, said meteorologist Matt Sena of the National Weather Service.

"We probably won't see as much sun as we had (on Monday)," he said. "But the temperature should be well up into the 60's, depending on the cloud cover."

Clayton County polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voters can cast their ballot at the precinct in which they are registered.

Many pundits have called the Georgia primary a "must win" for Sen. John Edwards' campaign for the Democratic nomination. Sen. John Kerry leads Edwards in the number of delegates, 590 to 169, with 2,162 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Though the North Carolina senator is hoping Georgians will respond well to his Southern roots, Edwards is falling further behind Kerry in the latest Georgia polls.

The poll, conducted Wednesday to Saturday by Zoby International, found that 45 percent of likely primary voters favored Kerry. Of the 601 voters polled, 26 percent preferred Edwards but 19 percent were still undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Secretary of State Cathy Cox predicted that 26 percent of Georgia's registered voters, just over 1 million people, will cast a ballot in today's presidential primary and referendum on the state flag.

The projection is roughly in line with the actual turnout four years ago, when 26.9 percent of registered voters participated in the presidential primary. Cox said she based her prediction on historic trends and the number of citizens using absentee ballots or the state's early voting process.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the changes to the state flag in recent years, some experts think Georgians will not turn out in large numbers to vote on it. The controversial version of the flag that flew from 1956 until 2001, the banner based on the Confederate battle flag, is not on the ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.