Georgia breaks record for first-day early voting, nearly doubling from last midterm election

A line of early voters file down the aisle as early voting begins for the midterm elections at the Citizens Service Center in Columbus, Georgia, on October 17, 2022.

Cheney Orr | Reuters

Turnout from Georgia’s first day of early voting set a new state record for a midterm election, nearly doubling the number from the same period in previous midterm elections, state election officials said Tuesday.

More than 131,000 voters in Georgia have cast ballots since early voting began Monday, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. The figure represents an 85% boost over the 2018 midterms, when nearly 71,000 early votes were cast on day one, the office said.

Georgia’s latest tally is also nearly as large as the state’s first day of early voting in the 2020 presidential election — 136,739 in that contest versus 131,318 in the current cycle, Raffensperger’s office said. Turnout tends to be much higher when the presidency is on the ballot.

Absentee ballots cast Monday totaled 11,759, bringing Georgia’s total voter turnout so far to 143,077, the office said.

The new Georgia early voting data, which matches a similar increase in voter turnout during the primary season, comes three weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms, when the balance of power in Congress and key statewide positions will be decided.

Georgia hosts some of the country’s most watched elections. A high-profile Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, for example, has emerged as one of the most competitive — and scandalous — contests in the nation.

Only one of a handful of key races can determine which party controls the Senate. The chamber is split 50-50 between the two parties, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is again challenging GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who leads in the polls. Abrams’ efforts to get off the ballot in 2020 have been credited with helping President Joe Biden carry the purple state over former President Donald Trump.

Raffensperger, a Republican who earned Trump’s ire for challenging the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was unfairly rigged against him, is also running for re-election.

And GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right conspiracy theorist who was stripped of her committee roles last year, is expected to be re-elected in her deep-red Georgia district despite a well-funded challenge from Democrat Marcus Flowers.

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