Georgia sees record turnout of early voters in midterm elections

Several high-stakes races on the Georgia ballot have generated record high turnout for early voters, according to state officials.

In the first days of early voting, 1.017 million people in the state cast their ballots, according to a press release from Georgia’s Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger.

This preliminary news of high turnout follows a controversial overhaul of state-level election administration procedures approved by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2021.

“We had a lot of issues with the 2020 election,” said Christian Zimm, a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 5th congressional district. “We’ve codified many of these issues into law with SB 202,” he told CNBC.

“[Senate Bill 202] means we no longer have 24-hour mailboxes here in the state,” said Bernard Fraga, professor of political science at Emory University. “Counties like Fulton County and DeKalb County that had dozens of ballot boxes [are] now reduced to less than half, in some cases less than a third, the number of Dropboxes they had in November 2020.”

Still, there are a few ways SB202 is making voting easier for some voters. “You can vote anywhere in your county in the state of Georgia during early voting. … This is very beneficial for people who work. This is beneficial for people who are parents,” Tammy Greer, an assistant political science professor at Atlanta Clark University, told CNBC.

The votes pouring in from the sprawling Atlanta metropolitan area will resonate across the United States in this midterm election cycle. These voters will help determine the crucial races in the US Senate and House of Representatives, as well as for the governor and secretary of state.

If Republicans manage to swap national seats in key parts of Georgia and split Congress, the pace of US politics could slow, experts say.

“This is a unique moment in terms of hyperpolarization where, in many cases, Congress can’t even pass legislation because there’s just no yielding,” said Adrienne Jones, an assistant professor at Morehouse College.

Polling data suggests that economic issues remain the top issues for voters in the final weeks leading up to Election Day, but record voting results suggest a wide range of issues, including crime, civil rights and abortion, are motivating voters to vote in to flock to the ballot box.

Watch them Video above to see what’s driving Atlanta’s record turnout of early voters.