Advanced voting at civic center as election day looms
by Jon Gargis
Oct 27, 2010 | 2395 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melvin Brumbelow, seated left, and L.D. Waters help process Bobby Carr’s advance voting form Tuesday at the Cartersville Civic Center, where voting runs this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Though it has not been kept a secret, it seems that registered Bartow County voters have yet to fully realize the addition of a second polling place open for voting prior to election day on Tuesday.

Early voting has been offered at the Bartow County Voter Registration Office since Sept. 20, and ballots can be cast there today through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Cartersville Civic Center joined the voter registration office on Monday as a polling place keeping the same hours for voters through Friday. Bartow County Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk said turnout at the latter location is not yet as strong as he would have hoped.

"I urge people to go there -- we're actually getting about three times as many voters at our office as at the civic center, and they're actually set up for more people over there," Kirk said. "And there are other events going on over there -- if you drive by and see the parking lot full, it's not the voting."

Kirk, Tuesday afternoon said he had seen lines at times for the six voting machines at his office, but he had not heard of any waiting at the civic center, which has 16 machines available to voters. "It's taking folks on average six to seven minutes to vote once they get to the machine, so those six machines of mine here may not cut it if too many more people come out," he added.

With in-person turnout at the civic center standing at 210 voters in the nearly two days of voting, Kirk said poll workers on election day could have their work cut out for them.

"I was hoping for 300 a day over there," he said. "We're going to have a massive turnout on Tuesday. I really think folks are just holding off. I may have to eat my words later on election night, but I think we're going to hit 50 percent turnout."

All polling places will be open next Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but taking advantage of the civic center's available voting machines Tuesday afternoon was Mae Seibel of Acworth. The 20-year-old was participating in her first election, adding that her voting experience was a good one. But she said she did not originally know of the early voting opportunity.

"I came here to donate blood, and then I saw so many signs saying 'Voting' and things like that. I was wondering, 'What's this about, I thought this wasn't until later?'" she said.

Myrna Policastro of Kingston said her trip to the polls Tuesday was the second time she has skipped the election day lines. She was at the civic center to assist with the American Red Cross' blood drive, which was also taking place there.

"I just happened to be here, and the last time also, otherwise I'd vote in my precinct," she said.

Policastro said that while she did not have to wait to get to a machine, casting her ballot as well took little time. She estimated that it took her about two minutes.

"I knew who I wanted, so it wasn't a problem," she said, adding that researching one's votes helps. "Read beforehand. It's a good, good thing to do, reading the paperwork, on the amendments especially."

Kirk said that as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, 2,773 locals had cast ballots in person in early and advanced voting, and out of 1,277 ballots sent by mail, 785 have been returned.

The county had 48,324 registered voters as of the Aug. 10 primary runoff election. With 3,558 ballots in, local turnout so far is about 7.4 percent.

The Georgia Secretary of State's Office reported that 348,198 people had cast ballots statewide in early voting as of Saturday. Nearly 5.8 million people in Georgia are registered to vote.

See The Daily Tribune News in the coming days for further election coverage.

-- Some information from the Associated Press was used in this report.