First wave of ballots returned for Georgia 2018 election

Many Georgia voters are already mailing in their ballots, locking in their votes five weeks before Election Day.

So far, 9,077 voters have returned absentee ballots, according to data from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office.

These early voters are increasingly African-Americans and women, according to an analysis of voters' demographic data by Michael McDonald, who runs the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida.

Black voters made up 42 percent of all early voters as of Saturday, McDonald said. Black voters account for 30 percent of registered voters in Georgia, but they’ve mailed almost as many ballots as white voters, who have returned 47 percent of absentee ballots.

About 58 percent of voters so far are women, who make up 51 percent of the population.

African-American and female voters will be critical in the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp.

"Whites are voting at about the same level as 2014, whereas African-Americans have surged quite a bit, as have other persons of color," McDonald wrote on Twitter.

No votes will be counted until Election Day on Nov. 6, and the first wave of absentee-by-mail ballots account for about 1 percent of all early votes cast in the 2014 midterms.

Georgia allows anyone to vote by mail on absentee ballots.

In-person early voting begins across the state on Oct. 15. The deadline to register to vote for this year's election is Oct. 9.

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