Early Voting Sets Records Statewide; Local Turnout Light to Moderate
Statewide, early voters set records ahead of the May 24 General Primary, but the polling was light to moderate in this area, according to local officials. Advance voting ended Friday, May 20, with an all-time high of more than 850,000 Georgia voters casting ballots in person or with absentee ballots, writes Dave Williams, Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat news service.
The totals represented a 168% increase over early voting ahead of the last gubernatorial primaries in 2018 and a 212% jump over early voting turnout for the primaries two continued from page
years ago. GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said May 21 that the record early voting is a testament of public trust in the process since the Republicancontrolled General Assembly passed election reform legislation last year. The law replaced the signaturematch verification process for absentee ballots with a photo ID requirement and restricted the location of absentee ballot drop boxes.
Republicans cast 483,149 early ballots compared to 368,949 voters who cast Democratic ballots. Independent voters cast 5,303 nonpartisan ballots.
In Toombs County, Election Supervisor Carey Alligood said 1,778 people voted early. According to the Board of Elections website, 168 absentee ballots were issued and 138 had been returned by May 20. Alligood said of the voting, “It was light until Friday when we were really busy.”
The Toombs County Board of Elections website has updated polling on a daily basis since early voting began on May 2. Toombs County had only one contested race, the non-partisan election for the District 3 post on the Toombs County Board of Education. In Montgomery County, where more local seats were at stake, turnout was considered “moderate.” Probate Court Clerk Stacie Randolph said 682 citizens voted early, and 33 of the 47 ballots mailed out had been returned. “A majority of the voting occurred last week, with 299 citizens voting between Monday and Friday,” Randolph said, noting that on Friday, 109 votes were cast.
In Montgomery, three nonpartisan seats are contested: Montgomery County Magistrate; and the District 3 and District 5 Board of Education posts.
In Wheeler County where neither of the two Board of Education seats up for election are contested, turnout was extremely light. By Friday, only 350 citizens had cast ballots, and only about half of the 38 applications for ballots had been returned, said Registrar Sheila Cheek. She said the county has 3,200 registered voters.
A question about renewing a 10-year, one percent local option sales tax (T-SPLOST) was also included on ballots. A number of local projects are dependent on passage of the measure.
The GOP top-of-theballot races have drawn the most attention this spring, with Governor Brian Kemp facing a challenge from former U.S. Senator David Perdue and University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker leading a field of candidates running for the U.S. Senate.
Stacey Abrams is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination unopposed, while incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has only token primary opposition.
Reports of Democrats choosing Republican primary ballots to vote against GOP candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump also may have helped swell early voting in GOP primaries, according to Capitol Beat.