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Turnout in Effingham stronger than anticipated

POSTED: July 24, 2014 7:42 p.m.

While a 12.5 percent turnout of registered voters sounds disappointing for an election, it was actually a pleasant surprise in Effingham County for Tuesday’s runoff.

Of Effingham’s 28,000 registered voters, 3,513 cast ballots in the runoff. With no local races on the ballot, local election officials had predicted voter turnout to be as low as 2 percent.

County elections supervisor Olivia Morgan described the turnout as “exceptional, a lot bigger than we expected” compared to previous runoffs without local races.

The majority of Effingham voters cast ballots in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, only 197 votes were cast in the race for state school superintendent and 117 for U.S. House District 1.

Conversely, the Republican races were the big draw in Effingham. More than 3,200 people voted in the U.S. Senate runoff between Jack Kingston and David Perdue and more than 2,200 for the U.S. House race between Buddy Carter and Bob Johnson.

In a few instances, Morgan said, the Carter-Johnson race brought out voters by accident. She said her office received some reports of people not realizing until they went to the polls that they do not live in the 1st District.

Georgia’s congressional districts were redrawn following the 2010 census, and the first election using the new boundaries was in 2012. Effingham is divided among the 12th District, represented by John Barrow, and the 1st.

“Some people are still not aware that we’re not all the 12th,” Morgan said.

The early voting period also had a higher-than-expected response. A total of 635 early ballots were cast in Effingham — 539 in-person and 96 by mail, according to the elections office.

“We were over 2 percent with just absentee by mail and advance in-person (votes),” Morgan said.

Turnout in the May 20 general primary was 17.8 percent.

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