Voter turnout low in south Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Voter turnout low in south Georgia

July 19, 2006

Bainbridge-   Turnout for primary elections is notoriously low. Only about 21 percent of Georgia's 4.2 million voters cast ballots yesterday and some South Georgia counties had even lower turnout.  For example, in Lowndes County, only 12 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

Lunch conversation at Chef Jay's Bistro in Cathy Cox's home town of Bainbridge centered on election results and a lack of turn out even in Cox's home town.

"It's a poor excuse, but it's my excuse, first one thing then another, hot, tired, work," said Tim Sims, of Bainbridge.

"I worked all day yesterday and I was kind of busy at work and I just didn't get there in time, I wanted to, though," said Shelley Perkins of Bainbridge.

Not surprisingly, turnout in many south Georgia counties was low, but in Cox's home district officials thought it would be higher than 24 percent.

"We were a little bit surprised by the low turnout, we were expecting a big turnout but I guess being that it was summer vacation, hot, the turn out was kind of low this time. We were very surprised," said Erica Hamilton, Decatur County Clerk of Elections.

By contrast, Mark Taylor's hometown, Albany, beat the state voter turnout average.

"We had a 33 percent turn out which we think is really good for an off year or primary. Our voters do turn out, we appreciate that too," said Carolyn Hatcher, Dougherty Co.Elections Supervisor.

Trends show the counties closest to the Florida line had much lower turnout, many just above 20 percent and some like Lowndes County as low as 12 percent. Voters who didn't cast ballots say they've got only themselves to blame.

"I don't reckon there is a good reason for people not to do their civic responsibility. They complain about who's in office, but they don't take the time to vote so, I can't say nothing," said Sims.

With the governor's seat at stake this fall, elections officials hope the turnout come November will improve.  There are four statewide runoff races and several on the local level as well.

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