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Voter turnout varies across Clayton cities

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Lovejoy residents were asked to fill out a short application that asked for general information, before walking into the Municipal Court at the Joe Murphy Public Safety Building to vote.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz Lovejoy residents were asked to fill out a short application that asked for general information, before walking into the Municipal Court at the Joe Murphy Public Safety Building to vote.

The turnout for Tuesday’s municipal elections in Clayton County’s seven cities was a mixed bag, ranging from a 23 percent showing in Jonesboro, to just 5.3 percent of Riverdale’s 8,400 registered voters, according to unofficial results.

By 2:30 p.m., in Riverdale, more than 170 citizens had turned out to cast their ballots, according to Poll Manager Gloria Collins. But, by the time the polls closed at 7 p.m., Riverdale City Clerk Stephanie Thomas said –– out of the 8,400 residents who are registered to vote –– 442 ballots had been cast, only about 5.3 percent of the registered voters.

Collins said this is not the first year she has worked the polls, and from her perspective, even though the turnout was light, everything seemed to run in an orderly fashion. “Everything was smooth and steady,” she said.

Vera Odom was among the residents who came out to cast their votes. She said she has lived in Riverdale for more than 10 years, and though she didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the candidates, she was interested in voting on Sunday alcohol sales.

Forest Park

In Forest Park, Elections Superintendent Dave Painter said he was thrilled to see a turnout of slightly more than 10 percent, with 741 votes cast out of 7,358 registered voters.

“It’s pretty sad, though, to be excited about a 10 percent turnout,” he said.

Painter said the flow of voters, Tuesday, at the Forest Park Recreation Center was pretty steady. “We were hoping to get above 5 percent turnout,” he said.

Lake City

Lake City Poll Manager Ray Dunn said 176, or 14.8 percent of the town’s 1,188 registered voters, cast their ballots in this year’s municipal election. He added that the number includes 37 people who voted during the city’s early voting period last month.

“It’s been better than usual,” he said. “Anywhere from 60, to 100 [voters] is normal.”

Dunn said he could only speculate as to why the turnout was higher than normal this year. The city had four people running for two city council seats, and voters were also deciding whether to allow package alcohol sales on Sundays.

“It was probably because of the alcohol vote, but I really don’t know,” Dunn said.

Morrow

Poll managers and election supervisors in Morrow and Jonesboro reported voter turnout numbers that were more traditional in their cities this year.

Morrow City Clerk Evyonne Browning, the city’s election supervisor, said 226 voters had voted, as of 6 p.m., with another 89 ballots cast during the early voting period. That equaled 7.8 percent of the city’s 2,868 registered voters. The city did not release final results or turnout numbers. Nor did it release the results of its mayoral race — the only contested race on the ballot — because the results were too close to call.

Morrow resident, Stanton Varnadoe, said the issue of who the next mayor will be was a key reason why he came to the polls to vote Tuesday. He cited headline-grabbing stories in the city, including the Olde Towne Morrow development, as proof that change was needed in the city. “We need new blood in here, especially in light of the Olde Towne Morrow situation,” he said.

Jonesboro

In Jonesboro, Poll Manager B.J. Burrell reported a little after 6 p.m., that 261 voters had already cast ballots on Tuesday. She said that was in addition to another 97 people who voted during the early voting period. “I think this is about average for us,” she said.

Results showed the final turnout for Jonesboro was 362 voters, or 23.13 percent of the city’s 1,565 registered voters. The city’s electorate was choosing a mayor, three city council members and whether packaged alcohol could be sold on Sundays.

Lovejoy

The City of Lovejoy has 2,800 registered voters and 313 of them came out to cast ballots, said Billy Williams, poll manager for the city. “It has been steady, not real heavy, but steady all day,” he said.

Williams said the turnout was about 11.2 percent of those registered to vote, which, he said, is a positive turnout.

College Park

In College Park, there are 8,915 registered voters, according to City Clerk Lakeitha Reeves. She said that number includes active voters and inactive voters, meaning those who haven’t voted in the last year or so. She said approximately 1,057 voters came out to vote Tuesday, which, unofficially, would be about 12 percent of those eligible.

Staff writers Kathy Jefcoats and Curt Yeomans contributed to this article.