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Participation high as advance voting ends Friday

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

While the opportunity to vote in advance of the 2008 presidential primary will end this Friday at 7 p.m., the county is seeing its highest voter turnout in years, according to county election officials.

Prior to the 2006 gubernatorial election, the Elections and Registration Office at the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, was the county's only advance voting site. County elections director, Annie Bright, said the four additional advance-voting sites introduced in 2006 are being utilized in 2008 more than ever before.

"We implemented this in 2006 to get our voters prepared for 2008," said Bright. "A lot more people are taking advantage of these sites instead of waiting until Super Tuesday to vote."

Bright said the flow of voters at all five advance voting sites has been steady this week. In total, 890 people voted in advance in the county on Monday and 1,346 people voted on Tuesday.

Estelle Bell, manager of the Morrow Municipal Complex advance voting site, said the number of advance votes recorded on Monday and Tuesday have increased by 33 percent from the 2006 election.

"It depends on the issues to bring people out, but you can sense that there is more excitement ... more interest," said Bell, who has worked the polls for over 30 years. "We've been busy. We haven't even had time to breathe."

Bell said the voters have been very appreciative about not having to wait until Feb. 5 to vote. She said that one voter brought sausages and biscuits for all of the poll workers earlier this week.

"We have very thoughtful voters," said Bell.

Barbara Todd, manager of the Lee Headquarters Library advance voting site, said the general media has done a better job of making sure that people are aware of the issues and know where advance voting sites are than in previous years. She said fewer voters were coming to the advance voting sites merely by accident.

"[Voters] tell me that they saw it in the paper or heard something about it," said Todd, who said the number of Monday and Tuesday advance votes had doubled at her site from the 2006 election. "People keep coming in and saying that they would rather come in and do this rather than stand in a long line."

Todd said that she can usually get advance voters in and out of the polling station in 10 minutes or less.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, 58 polling precincts across the county will be open from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m. for registered voters to vote in the Georgia 2008 presidential primary. Advance voting will be available today and Friday, from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m., at the following five sites:

Clayton County Advance Voting Sites:

· Elections and Registration Office

121 S. McDonough Street, Jonesboro.

· Lee Headquarters Library

865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro.

· Lovejoy Branch Library

1721 McDonough Road, Hampton.

· Morrow Municipal Complex (Community Room)

1500 Morrow Road, Morrow.

· Frank Bailey Senior Center

6213 Riverdale Road, Riverdale.