No crowds this year for early voting

Want to cast your ballot this week, but worried about a repeat of last year's early voting crowds?

Don't be.

Officials in metro Atlanta counties with contests slated for election day Nov. 3 said turnout for early voting -- which began Monday -- has been slow -- especially compared to the masses that turned out last year.

"We've had 12 voters," said Glenda Woods, absentee manager for DeKalb County Voter Registrations and Elections. "It's been very light."

If absentee votes are thrown in, the overall number rises to about 224, she said.

The numbers were a little better in Fulton County. By around 3 p.m., "a little under 500 people" had voted in the six polling places open, said Barry Garner, director of registration and elections for Fulton County.

Barry said that was about average and expected the numbers could pick up later Monday because the poll hours had been extended from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Monday's turnout is a sea change from late October 2008 when then Sen. Barack Obama was battling Sen. John McCain for the U.S. presidency. Voters across metro Atlanta spilled out the doors of election posts, sometimes waiting hours at a time to punch their ballot.

"This time last year was crazy," said DeKalb's Woods.

Atlanta, Fulton County, DeKalb County and Cobb County have contests for elected office next week, including a race for mayor in Atlanta.

Officials in Cobb also saw slow voting Monday with just a couple of handfuls in Kennesaw and Powder Springs to about 54 in Marietta a little after noon.

Garner said there is an upshot to the light attendance compared to 2008.

"Now you only have a five-minute wait," he said. "You get in and you get out."