Georgia sets new voting record for runoffs


More people cast ballots on the first day of early voting in Georgia’s Senate runoffs this week than those that did so when early voting opened ahead of the 2020 general election.

Roughly 168,000 Georgians went to the polls on Monday, the first day to vote early in-person in the state’s two critical Senate runoff elections, according to numbers provided by the Georgia secretary of state’s office. By comparison, some 128,000 voted on the first day of early voting for the November general election.

Another 314,000 people cast absentee ballots on the first day of the early-voting period. 

The first-day early in-person turnout broke a record previously set in October when early in-person voting began for the 2020 general election.

Since then, the numbers have only continued to rise. As of Friday morning, more than 1.1 million people had voted in the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff elections, according to numbers collated by Georgia Votes, a website that tracks early voting data. 

That lags only slightly behind the roughly 1.2 million that had voted at this point in the 2020 general election. 

Still, the turnout is stunningly high, given the timing of the two runoffs, in which Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are facing Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

Already, some 24,000 people who did not vote in the November general election have cast ballots in the runoff, according to The U.S. Elections Project, another website that tracks early voting.

At stake in the Jan. 5 runoff elections is party control of the Senate. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 seat edge in the upper chamber and a pair of Democratic wins in the Georgia runoffs would effectively hand Democrats an evenly divided chamber, in which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.

If either or both Democrats lose their runoffs, however, it would mean that President-elect Joe Biden would face a divided Congress when he takes office next month, complicating efforts to implement his agenda. 

Both parties are spending heavily in the runoffs, with hundreds of millions of dollars expected to flood into Georgia ahead of Jan. 5. And the races have already attracted the most influential figures in both parties. President Trump traveled to the state earlier this month and Biden stumped for Warnock and Ossoff in Atlanta this week. 

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