Early Voting in Senate Race Shatters Records
More than 1.8 million Georgia voters cast ballots last week prior to the U.S. Senate runoff on December 6. The record-setting turnout for one week of voting underlined intense interest in the high-profile race between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s “Data Hub” reported early Monday morning that the early voting turnout was 1,868,127, or 26.7% of the state’s 7,007,154 active voters, but absentee ballots were still arriving Monday and would be counted through Election Day.
The 352,953 ballots cast on Friday, the final day for early voting, shattered the previous one-day record for early voting in Georgia set ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Counting absentee and military voters, the total turnout reflected 26.4% of active Georgia voters, reported Dave Williams of Capitol Beat News Service.
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The Secretary of State’s office reported that 237,307 ballots were requested, 236,536 were issued, and 155,572 had been returned by Monday morning. “Data Hub” revealed that 1,029,659 whites voted early, while 595,269 blacks cast early ballots, with the remainder of the early votes cast by Hispanics, Asians, and others/unknown.
In this area, Toombs County had a total of 3,757 continued from page
early votes cast and 402 absentee ballots returned by Monday morning, according to the county Board of Elections web site. Wheeler County Registrar Sheila Cheek reported that 827 in-person votes were cast, with 60 absentee votes returned as of Monday. She said a record was set last week in Wheeler County for one week of early voting. In Montgomery County, 1,187 early votes were cast, with 94 absentee ballots returned as of Monday.
Warnock garnered more votes than Walker in the November 8 general election, capturing 49.4% of the vote to 48.5% for the Republican. But since neither candidate won more than 50% of the vote, state law requires a runoff to decide the victor.
Democrats expressed concern about the relatively low number of absentee ballots turned in ahead of the runoff, citing legislation the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed last year requiring voters to show a photo ID to vote absentee and significantly limiting the number of absentee ballot drop boxes.
But Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the strong early voting turnout shows the new law works. “Georgia has struck the perfect balance between accessibility and security,” Raffensperger said. “These historic turnout levels emphasize that any lawful voter who wants to cast a ballot can do so easily.”