By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – More than 1.7 million Georgia voters cast ballots last week ahead of the U.S. Senate runoff, a sure sign that interest is high in the contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
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 reached 1.85 million, 26.4% of active Georgia voters.
Warnock received more votes than Walker in the Nov. 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 have 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.”
Tuesday is Election Day. Polling locations across the state will be open from 7 a.m. until 7p.m.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.