By Beau Evans
Georgians are turning out to vote in record-breaking numbers both by mail and at local polling places during the early voting period less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
As of noon Wednesday, nearly 2 million people had voted in the hotly anticipated election that features a presidential contest, both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats, congressional, state and local offices all on the ballot.
Of those, more than 1.2 million had cast ballots in person during the three-week early voting period that started last Monday, marking a roughly 60% increase in the number of early voters compared to the same point in the 2016 election.
And to date, around 783,000 voters have cast absentee ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has prompted many Georgians to avoid the lines and virus transmission risks involved in heading to the polls. By this time in the 2016 election, roughly 103,000 mail-in ballots had been cast.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic, voters in the Peach State can take advantage of no-excuse absentee ballot voting by mail or through a secure dropbox, three weeks of early in-person voting or Election Day voting,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
With turnout still climbing, state and county election officials expect even more people to cast ballots next week in the days leading up to the election. Raffensperger said earlier this week turnout could top 2.5 million for early voting, with another 2 million voting on Election Day.
Georgia voters have already contended with hours-long waits in line outside many polling places since early voting began last week. Officials have urged voters to take advantage of an online portal to request absentee ballots and to mail them back as soon as possible.
As of Monday, Raffensperger said more than 1.6 million absentee ballots had been requested.