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Last-minute voters surge to polls Friday

A line of early voters wait to cast ballots at the Flint River Resource Center Friday.

A line of early voters wait to cast ballots at the Flint River Resource Center Friday.

ALBANY, Ga. — Hoping to avoid the lengthy lines that are anticipated Tuesday for election day, a surge of voters Friday found themselves waiting instead in long lines for early voting. Early voting ended at 5 p.m. Friday.

Even though the advanced voting period officially ended at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon, long lines in the two downtown early voting locations had the last early-voters casting their ballots nearly an hour after the doors had closed.

When the voting machines were tallied at both the Dougherty County Elections office location at 222 Pine Ave. and the Flint River Resource Center’s Candy Room at 125 Pine Ave. they showed that 2,379 people had voted on Friday — more than double the average daily turnout during the early voting period.

Who got those early votes will be a mystery until Tuesday when votes are tabulated. Elections officials say that during the 16-day early voting period, 15,896 cast ballots — an average of 994 each day.

And, in rough numbers, the totals mean that nearly 30 percent of the total registered voters in Dougherty County have already made their decisions heading into election day.

While the numbers were impressive, they fell short of the record voter turnout seen during the 2008 presidential election when then-Sen. Barack Obama was campaigning against Sen. John McCain and 17,918 people voted early in Dougherty County. All totaled, 39,042 would go on to vote in Dougherty County in that general election.

Elections officials and a small army of poll workers, volunteers and staff now will shift all their attention to election day on Tuesday, when polls will open at 7 a.m. across the county and close at 7 p.m.