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Early voting ends today

A group of people file into the doors of the Flint River Resource Center to vote Thursday afternoon. Voters have until 5 p.m. today to vote early before all precincts across Georgia open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

A group of people file into the doors of the Flint River Resource Center to vote Thursday afternoon. Voters have until 5 p.m. today to vote early before all precincts across Georgia open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

ALBANY -- The end -- of the early voting period -- is near.

The two downtown Albany polling places opened to allow voters in Dougherty County to cast early ballots will close at 5 p.m. today, ending a busy advanced voting period for elections officials and volunteers.

Early voting totals show that 2012 voters have kept a close pace with the record number of early votes cast in 2008. When early voting ceases, it will likely fall short of the 17,918 Dougherty votes that were cast before election day in 2008. All total, 39,042 would go on to vote from Dougherty County in that general election.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 13,517 had cast votes in Dougherty County during the early voting period. That translates into roughly a 25 percent voter turnout. Those numbers do not include more than 1,000 absentee voter ballots that have already been mailed.

To vote early, registered voters must bring a photo ID to either the Dougherty County Elections office at 222 Pine Avenue or the Flint River Resource Center at 125 Pine Avenue.

While there are a handful of local races and ballot measures drawing people to the polls, the presidential race is likely the biggest political magnet for voters.

After Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney reignited their campaigns Thursday with full-throttle closing arguments on the pocketbook concerns that have dominated the campaign from the start.

Obama, Romney, their wives and running mates were blitzing across the country in the busiest day of campaign events yet. The six principals were hitting seven swing states that will help determine on Tuesday which man will occupy the White House for the next four years.

After avoiding criticism of Obama by name for a full day after Superstorm Sandy, Romney aides said Thursday it was game on. That was evident as Romney opened a new criticism of Obama's suggestion that he would create a secretary of business.

"We don't need a secretary of business to understand business, we need a president who understands business, and I do," he said in Roanoke, Va. Romney's crowd seemed as charged as he was, interrupting with frequent whoops of applause and chants of "Five more days!"

Obama also focused on the economy, arguing that Romney is not the agent of change he is trying to portray himself as and asking for four more years to complete his work. His closing argument stump speech is heavy on nostalgia harkening back to his hopeful 2008 campaign and even the days when President Bill Clinton led Americans to better economic times.

"By the end Bill Clinton's second term America had created 23 million new jobs, and incomes were up and poverty was down and our deficit became the biggest surplus in our history," Obama said in Green Bay, Wis. "So Wisconsin, we know the ideas that work."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.