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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Poll worker Mallory McAllister smiles as she takes a voter's information at a polling place at Dawnville United Methodist Church in Dawnville, Ga. on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

At the voting precinct in Ringgold, Georgia, on Tuesday afternoon, 19-year-old Cole Dasinger was surely an outlier when it came to his political beliefs.

Catoosa County — and the rest of Northwest Georgia — is a reliably red pocket and has supported Republicans for decades. Dasinger is a young voter, lives in Ringgold and said he supported both Democrats running for the U.S. Senate in Tuesday's runoff election.

Dasinger said his beliefs align more with Jon Ossoff's and Raphael Warnock's, and he also referenced Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue's financial transactions after a Senate COVID briefing and before the pandemic became public knowledge.

In the same parking lot as Dasinger, Pamela and Larry Burgess were more typical of the local voter. They support Loeffler and Perdue — and an effort by Lin Wood, an attorney supportive of President Donald Trump who is petitioning to get Gov. Brian Kemp thrown out of office for failing to support Trump's efforts to be declared the winner of the presidential election.

Would Pamela and Larry be in favor of that?

"Oh, no question," Larry Burgess said. "These people up here [in Northwest Georgia], I'm sure they'll sign it."

(Click here for the latest results on the Senate runoffs in Georgia)

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Election Day in Georgia

Pamela said she doesn't have faith in Loeffler and Perdue's chances, but that comes from a lack of faith in the voting machines in Georgia. The two believe the presidential election was stolen from Trump by Democrat Joe Biden.

"The machines haven't been changed and no one has addressed election fraud," Pamela Burgess said.

Even though the two have doubts about the integrity of elections in Georgia, they both voted in a system they don't fully believe in.

"I'm doing it for my president," Pamela Burgess said.

Dasinger said he's never been worried about the integrity of Georgia's election process, not in November and not now. He did say he was worried about Ossoff and Warnock's chances and expected the rural voters of Georgia to turn out in large numbers Tuesday.

Tom Pace, a 49-year-old Ringgold voter, said he supports the Republican Party mostly because he's in favor of fiscal responsibility and low government spending. He believes Perdue has a better chance than Loeffler to retain his seat in the Senate, but said he hasn't seen any credible evidence that would suggest widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

"I just haven't seen any evidence of it," Pace said. "There's been a lot of finger-pointing on both sides, but I haven't seen any true irregularities with the system in place."

Thirteen miles down Interstate 75 in Dalton, 25-year-old Aldo Pineda said he was voting in person Tuesday for one particular reason.

"I just got out of quarantine," he said, a reminder that the obstacles 2020 brought to Georgia and the rest of the country are not going away with the flip of a calendar.

Pineda is supporting the Democratic candidates in Tuesday's runoff. He said he prefers their policies over the Republicans' in the race and is hopeful they will pull off upset victories.

Keith Bennett, another Dalton voter, backed Loeffler and Perdue. Bennett considers himself pro-life and holds more conservative values. He also didn't feel like a bow should be tied on November's election.

"God is going to do what's intended," he said. "That's all up in the air right now."

Bennett attended Trump's rally the night before in Dalton and was impressed by the crowd and the energy.

At that rally, Trump said that if the Republicans both win he won't get any credit. He then said if the Democrats win, he'll get all the blame.

There will be a period of uncertainty as Georgia counts the votes. Loeffler and Perdue likely will carry most of Northwest Georgia, and Ossoff and Warnock will rely on metro areas where young and diverse voters carried Joe Biden to victory. The outcome will probably be decided based on which of those areas has the most turnout.

With all eyes on Georgia, the counting begins.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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