More than a quarter million voters turned out on Monday in the Georgia runoff election, amounting to the largest in-person early voting day in the state’s history as the race continues between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
“Just…WOW! GA voters, facilitated through the hard work of county election & poll workers, have shattered the old Early Vote turnout, with 300,438 Georgians casting their votes today,” Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling tweeted on Monday. “They blew up the old record of 233k votes in a day. Way to go voters & election workers.”
Sterling added, “We are working on final numbers, but for context, the last day of Early Voting in 2018 was 233,252 and that is the record for Early Voting that will fall today.”
Warnock led Walker by about 37,000 votes out of about 4 million cast in the general election but fell short of the majority required under Georgia law, triggering a four-week runoff blitz.
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Early in-person voting continues through Friday. Runoff Election Day is Tuesday of next week.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker
After winning a state lawsuit to allow Saturday voting after Thanksgiving, Warnock spent the weekend urging his supporters not to wait until the Dec. 6 runoff. Trying to leverage his role as pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church and Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator, Warnock concentrated his efforts Sunday among Black communities in metro Atlanta.
Walker, in contrast, did not hold public events over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and in his return to the campaign Monday night in the northern Atlanta suburb of Cumming, he did not mention early voting specifically, according to The Associated Press.
Separately, the Republican Party and its aligned PACs are trying to drive turnout after Walker underperformed other Georgia Republicans in the general election. Walker finished the first round with about 200,000 fewer votes than Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who easily won a second term. Walker resumed his campaign Monday with stops in small-town Toccoa and suburban Cumming.
Voters wait in a growing line to cast their ballots at the Bessie Branham Park polling location on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Ron Harris)
The final race in the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress to hang in the balance post-midterms, Senate control is no longer at play, with Democrats already having secured 50 seats to go with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. That puts pressure on both Warnock and Walker to convince Georgia voters that it is worth their time to cast a second ballot, even if the national stakes are not as high.
The race between Warnock and Walker will determine if Democrats can expand their majority or if Republicans will maintain the 50-50 balance.
Gov. Brian Kemp campaigns with Senate candidate Herschel Walker on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 in Smyrna, Georgia.
(AP Photo/Bill Barrow)
As of late Sunday, almost 200,000 ballots had been cast in the relative handful of counties that opted to have weekend voting. The first day of statewide early voting on Monday added more than a quarter million more. That is included long lines in several heavily Democratic counties of metro Atlanta, enough to give Democrats confidence that their core supporters remain excited to vote for Warnock.
However, the total remains a fraction of the nearly 2.3 million early in-person voters ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
Additionally, Democrats remain cautious given that the early voting window is much shorter than two years ago, when the second round spanned two months between the general election and runoff. Voting on Saturday was allowed only because Warnock and Democrats sued amid a dispute with the Republican secretary of state over whether Saturday voting could occur on a holiday weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.