About 5,500 people in Troup County voted in advance of the 2004 presidential election, but it was allowed for only one week. This time, 13,884 voted early - 36 percent of Troup’s 39,101 registered voters.
County elections superintendent Donald Boyd said he expects a 70 percent turnout when all is said and done.
Early voting started Sept. 22, but “I couldn’t get here before today because I was working,” said Michael Means, 21, of LaGrange, an employee of Specialized Services in West Point. “I just happened to get off early today.”
A first-time voter, Means had thought about waiting until Tuesday, but figured it would be an even longer wait.
He was standing in line Friday with longtime friend Brandon Pruitt, 21, of LaGrange, who’s going through police academy training in Columbus in hopes of landing a job at the Troup County Sheriff’s Department.
Pruitt was able to go Friday because “we talked our lieutenant into letting us out early so we could vote.” He can’t vote Tuesday because he’ll be at the Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.
Rod Davis, a quality engineer at Caterpillar in LaGrange, said he’d thought about waiting until Tuesday, but family members had voted early and said it went pretty smoothly.
Leah Kalista, 18, of LaGrange, a freshman journalism major at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said it was “political efficacy” that brought her to the polling place Friday.
“I think voting makes a difference,” she said. “You’ve got to do what you can to get the country back on track.”
Security officers at the Government Center locked the doors at 5 p.m., but everyone in line at that time was able to vote.
Shane Nave, 37, of La-Grange, an employee of Milliken’s Kex 2 plant, was the last person to vote.
“I came to get my (car) tag and I saw this going on, so I went ahead and got in line,” he said.
The Government Center had 10 voting machines. Chief Registrar Donna Williams wanted to get more, but they were all programmed for the 16 polling places that will be in operation Tuesday.
Jimmy Morris, a security officer at the Government Center who has helped manage elections since 1988, said, “I’m amazed it has run as smooth as it has with the kind of numbers we’ve been dealing with.”