Early voting for July 20 primaries available in all metro counties

Gwinnett County voters already have had a head start; early voting there began on May 28. Cobb County opens its doors to early voters on Friday. Early voting precincts in Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton and most other Georgia counties open on Monday. State law requires counties to offer early voting at least 45 days before election day.

Lynn Ledford, Gwinnett's voter registration and elections director, said on Thursday that about 40 residents had stopped in to cast their early votes at the county's election office in Lawrenceville.

Those most likely to take part in early voting, she said, are people who will be out of town on July 20 and the politically active "die-hards" who are going to vote Democrat or Republican regardless of who the candidates are.

Ledford strongly encouraged would-be voters to go to the Secretary of State's Web site at www.sos.georgia.gov and click on the new "My Voter Page" link. "It's absolutely fantastic and provides so much information to the public," she said.

On the Web site, a voter who types in his or her name, birthday and county can call up a customized primary ballot, either Democrat or Republican. It lists all candidates in both state and local elections.

"We want to put as much information in the hands of the voter as we can, in an easy-to-use format," Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. "The goal is for every voter in the state of Georgia to have the information he or she needs to be able to make the voting process work for them."

The customized ballots give voters ample time to prepare before deciding how to vote in 15 contested statewide races and numerous other local races.

The Secreary of State's My Voter Page site also shows individual voters the locations of their local precincts for the July 20 primaries and where they can go to cast early votes. It also shows how a voter can change his or her address and get an absentee ballot.

It's hard to predict voter turnout in primaries during election cycles when there is no presidential election, elections officials said. Only 21 percent of registered voters in Georgia cast ballots in the 2006 primary and 30 percent cast ballots during the 2002 primaries.

If people want to vote in the upcoming primaries, the deadline to register to vote is June 21.

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