The first two days of early voting in Georgia have been record-breaking, according to numbers released by the state.
On the first day of early voting for the 2022 midterm races in the state, roughly 134,045 people cast their ballots, nearly double the amount that voted early in the 2018 midterms, when 70,849 people voted on the first day of early voting. The number is also close to how many voted on day one of early voting in Georgia for the 2020 presidential race, when 136,739 ballots were cast.
Tuesday saw a nearly identical number of people voting early. According to government figures, 134,005 people voted on the second day of early voting — just 40 votes shy of day one’s numbers.
The 268,050 ballots cast so far represent the first time in Georgia’s history that more than 100,000 ballots were cast on each of the first two days of early voting.
The high turnout has come with long lines, which are compounded by the fact that Georgia has consolidated many of its voting areas, most notably in large cities, and has enacted stricter voting measures since the last election, making it harder for people to take time out of their day to wait in line to cast a ballot.
As a result, government officials and voting rights groups have urged voters to plan well in advance.
“We strongly encourage voters to make a plan to cast their ballots and to double check advanced voting and Election Day polling locations before heading to vote,” a spokesperson for the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections said.
Making a plan to vote “involves knowing what day they want to vote and how they want to vote, whether early in-person or absentee,” Stephanie Ali, policy director at New Georgia Project, said to The Guardian. “And then, knowing things like if they need a ride or finding out if they know the candidates on their ballot.”
Two critical races are likely driving the high turnout. In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Stacey Abrams is hoping to upset incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a rematch of their race from four years ago. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), meanwhile, is hoping to retain his seat in a closely watched Senate race against Republican Herschel Walker, in a contest that will undoubtedly have national implications.
Much of the high turnout is from counties that are Democratic strongholds. Indeed, the six counties with the highest numbers of early voting so far all went for President Joe Biden in the presidential election two years ago, and represent more than 114,000 votes — or roughly 4 in 10 voters who have cast ballots in the first two days.