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Georgia breaks first-day early-voting record, nearly doubles figure from last midterms

A line of early voters file down the hall as early voting begins for the midterm elections at the Citizens Service Center in Columbus, Georgia, 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 figure from the same time period in the previous midterms, state election officials said Tuesday.

More than 131,000 Georgia voters cast ballots since early voting began Monday, according to the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 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 turnout so far to 143,077, the office said.

The new early-voting data in Georgia, which corresponds with a similar surge in turnout during the primary season, comes three weeks before the Nov. 8 midterms when the balance of power in Congress and key state-level posts will be decided.

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

Just one of a handful of key races could 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.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, meanwhile, is again challenging GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who is leading in the polls. Abrams’ get-out-the-vote efforts in 2020 have been credited with helping President Joe Biden carry the purple state over former President Donald Trump.

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

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