By the end of the day Monday, 2,291 people had cast ballots. At press time Tuesday, DeKalb Election officials reported a constant flow of voters at their 4380 Memorial Drive office in Decatur.
The majority of those voters, 2,084 cast ballots on Monday. Many of them credit excitement over the U.S. presidential race of Sen. Barack Obama and a desire to avoid long lines on election day.
Ervin Ingram, 70, of Stone Mountain said he liked the opportunity to vote absentee without having to provide a reason.
"They offered it, so it seemed like the right thing to do," said Ingram, who has voted in DeKalb County for 18 years.
The steady stream of people at the polls with him on Monday was a bit surprising, though.
"I didn't expect to see such a big turnout," he said. "I guess everybody had the same idea I had."
Glenda Wood, who co-ordinates absentee voting for the office, said they opened the poll at noon on Sept. 18 and by end of day, 48 people had voted.
"We don't know how they knew we were open but there they were," she said.
On Friday, 159 people cast ballots, and on Monday, the first official day of Advance Voting, a people s kept flowing into the office.
The start of voting 45 days away from the Nov. 4 election day is made possible by a new state law that eliminated a reason for voting absentee in person. On Monday, DeKalb led the rest of metro-Atlanta with the largest turnout of voters.
On Tuesday, when the poll opened at 8 a.m., Wood said more than 20 people were in line.
"There is constant stream of people coming in," she said.
Wood said many of the voters commented about how quickly they got it done.
Alec McCrackin, an Atlanta-DeKalb resident, said he was absolutely amazed at the number of people who showed up.
"I am especially pleased that it was so smooth and well organized in there," he said. "I was there for only 10 minutes at the most. I've never seen anything like this in my life."
Pat Clark of Decatur said the 10 minutes it took her to vote on Monday was very different from her experience with the 2004 presidential election.
"It took her two hours to vote then," she said. "I know that it's going to be very crowded on election day and I wanted to get my vote in so I would not have to stand in line for a long time."
James Barrett, who has voted for 20 years in Decatur, said Obama's campaign has energized him and other voters.
"He represents change and we really need change," Barrett said. "We've had eight years of the same. This is going to be like Clinton [in 1992]. I didn't early vote that particular year and I can remember seeing people wrapped around the churches voting."
Linda Latimore, DeKalb's election director, said she isn't surprised by the early turnout.
"We have done a lot to try to get people to vote early," she said.
Those efforts included sending early voting packages to churches, libraries, homeowners association, the county Water and Tax Commissioners offices, senior centers, schools and 46,000 notices to every household in the 20 preceincts with the largest number of registered voters. Latimore is expecting a 85 to 90 percent turnout in DeKalb County. She says they have enough staff to handle the absentee voting traffic and are bringing in people as needed.
"We are conducting ongoing poll worker training classes, preparing over 600 managers and assistant managers and more than 3,000 clerks," she said.
The Absentee Poll is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 24 at the DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office, 4380 Memorial Drive in Decatur. For more information, visit www.dekalbvoters.com or call 404-298-4020.
McKenzie Jackson contributed to this report.
Published Sept. 25, 2008
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