Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Secretary of State Handel Announces Record Presidential Primary Turnout

Secretary of State Karen Handel today announced that Georgia voters participated in record numbers in the February 5 Presidential Preference Primary.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, 44 percent of active registered voters cast over 1,966,600 votes in Tuesday’s primary, far surpassing participation in the 1988 presidential primary which had 40 percent active voter turnout and 1,023,680 votes cast. Nearly 248,000 Georgians took advantage of the convenience of voting by mail-in absentee ballot or during the advance voting week prior to February 5. This compares to the 2004 presidential primary when just over 48,000 Georgians cast votes by absentee ballot or during advance voting week.

"Georgians voted in historic numbers yesterday. Turnout in our state has been very low in past years, so it’s a very positive sign that so many Georgians made the time to exercise one of our most important rights,” Handel said.

“Our state’s county elections officials and the thousands of poll workers are to be commended for their management of the election process amid record voter turnout in many parts of the state. As we expected, the process ran smoothly,” said Handel.

This year’s presidential primary was the first statewide election to be conducted under Georgia’s requirement that voters show photo ID when voting in-person, and the fourth election overall in which photo ID has been required for in-person voting.

“County elections officials reported no problems with the photo ID requirement, and no issues were reported directly to our office,” Handel said.

Handel also deployed more than 50 investigators and 26 technicians across the state. The investigators served as elections monitors and the technical support team was on stand-by to provide back-up technical support. The state-wide deployment allowed for a member of either team to respond to any particular precinct in less than hour.

“Our deployment of elections monitors and technicians proved to be very successful, allowing us to dispatch back-up immediately and handle any issue quickly,” added Handel.

Long lines were reported in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, particularly in the first hours after the polls opened. No other counties reported issues with inordinate wait time. The Secretary of State’s Office received isolated reports of sluggish check-in terminals, mostly confined to Fulton County. Voting equipment functioned properly throughout the day.

“Despite all going very smoothly, we always want to look for ways to do better. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with local elections to get their input,” said Handel.

To prepare for the July general primary and November’s general election, Handel will convene her local elections advisory committee to discuss ways to improve elections administration, including voter registration; absentee ballot processing; and overall Election Day procedures such as the voter check-in process. Additionally, Handel will encourage county officials to promote absentee and early voting, as well as the purchase of additional check-in terminals, as ways to ease voter waiting times on Election Day.

County elections offices will accept absentee ballots from voters who qualify under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act through close of business on Friday, February 8. County primary election results are detailed on the Secretary of State’s website:

Secretary of Handel will certify Georgia’s presidential primary results and release final turnout figures next week.

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