Early voting in Georgia’s primary has soared to record numbers, despite dire warnings from Democrats that a new electoral law would stifle turnout – President Biden likened it last year to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
During the three weeks of early voting, more than 850,000 ballots were cast in person or returned by absentee ballot, a 212% increase over the 2020 presidential primary and a 168% increase over the 2018 gubernatorial primary, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement released last Friday.
“The incredible turnout we saw shows once and for all that Georgia’s Election Integrity Law struck a good balance between the guard rails of access and security,” Raffensperger said in the statement.
When Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the voting reforms in March 2021, which imposed new rules on absentee voting, including requiring a photo ID and shortening the voting window, critics howled in outrage.
Biden, who defeated former President Donald Trump in Georgia in 2020 to become the first Democrat to win the state since 1992, was among those who predicted the law would dampen voting, especially among minorities, calling it ” un-American”. .”
Stacey Abrams addresses the news media outside an electoral district on Tuesday.EPA
“This is Jim Crow in the 21st century. It has to end,” he said.
Calls for a boycott by the Georgian government and companies began almost immediately.
Major League Baseball pulled the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta, and critics lashed out at Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based carrier issued a statement praising portions of the law.
A voter checks his printed ballot at the Park Tavern polling station on Tuesday.Getty Images
Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger gave an update on the primary elections on Tuesday.REUTERS
Amid the criticism, Delta CEO Ed Bastian did a U-turn, calling the law “unacceptable.”
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola executive James Quincey also spoke out against the measure
But more than a year after the initial fanfare surrounding the law, 857,401 people cast their early votes — including 795,567 in person and 61,744 by absentee as of May 20, Raffensperger said
Trump-backed David Perdue is up against Gov. Brian Kemp, who has won support from Mike Pence.REUTERS
The increased turnout was driven by Republicans, who cast 483,149 votes compared to Democrats’ 368,949 votes and 5,303 bipartisan votes.
The GOP’s participation in Tuesday’s primary reflects nationwide coverage of a number of key races in the state, including the Republican gubernatorial contest between incumbent Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue.
The race has made headlines due to the split between Trump, who supports Perdue, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who supports Kemp.
In the three weeks of early voting, more than 850,000 ballots were cast in person or returned by mail.Getty Images
Alongside the marquee match between Kemp and Perdue, NFL star and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker is seeking the Republican nomination for a US Senate seat, and far-right lightning rod Marjorie Taylor Greene is seeking a second term in the House of Representatives.
Georgia Republicans are still suffering from the loss of two GOP-held Senate seats to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who took control of the chamber in 2021.
That, and the Biden administration’s failure to respond to inflation and the immigration crisis, has Republicans in turmoil.
About 57% of voters cast Republican ballots, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.
Voters cast their ballots at Chastain Park High School.REUTERS
“We vote for whoever would do the best job. Just because a candidate is a Trump person doesn’t mean they’re doing the best job,” Kenneth Kelley told the newspaper after the Cherokee County vote. “We have options in our party.”
Others told the publication that they support a variety of Republican candidates regardless of whether Trump supported them.
“It’s a mixed bag. I don’t care what Trump thinks. I want to hear from the candidates,” said Mickey Morrison, an early voter in Forsyth County.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (second from right) exits the Georgia Capitol after signing into law a sweeping overhaul of the state election in March 2021.AP
Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), the chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said she’s not surprised Republicans are running in large numbers because of the high-profile races, and she expects a similar response from her party in this November — when a rematch is expected between Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams after defeating her in 2018.
Abrams is the unchallenged candidate in the Democratic primary.
“That’s what happens when you have a controversial area code. We’ll let them figure out their plans on their site while we continue the work and talk to constituents,” Williams told the newspaper. “Stacey is ready for anyone who comes out of elementary school.”