Lawrenceville, Georgia - Voters wearing face masks strand in line outside of the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Office in order to participate in early voting in Lawrenceville, Monday, May 18, 2020. Early voting began May 18 and will last three-weeks until June 5. Georgia’s election day is Tuesday, June 9. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

More Georgians voted by mail than in-person on Day 1 of early voting

Turnout was relatively high on the first day of in-person early voting in Georgia’s primary, but even more people voted absentee Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 15,000 voters, many of them wearing masks, cast their ballots at early voting locations, according to state election data.

That’s a larger turnout than on the first days of in-person voting for primaries in 2016 and 2018, but slightly lower than the start of early voting for this year’s presidential primary on March 2.

Still, most Georgians preferred to vote remotely, with over 26,000 absentee ballots received by county election offices Monday.

RELATED: Who’s voted, so far, in Georgia's June 2020 primary election

The combination of voting options could result in significant participation in the combined presidential and general primary. A record 1.46 million voters have requested absentee ballots, and many more will cast their ballots during three weeks of early voting and on election day June 9.

Overall, nearly 415,000 people have voted so far, including 400,000 who submitted absentee-by-mail ballots.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is encouraging people to vote absentee and avoid human contact, but they can also choose to vote in person.

Some voters had to wait in lines Monday because of delays caused by social distancing, equipment cleaning and absentee ballot cancellations.

“No matter how you chose to vote, we want you to feel safe and comfortable,” Raffensperger said.

Georgians who originally planned to vote absentee but showed up to vote in person Monday contributed to lines, which lasted more than an hour at some metro Atlanta locations. Election officials had to cancel voters’ absentee ballots before they could vote in person.

At least 2,700 voters canceled their absentee ballots Monday and then voted in person, according to election records. That represents 18% of all in-person voters.

Overall, more people have cast Republican than Democratic ballots so far, 234,000 to 173,000. An additional 8,600 voters cast nonpartisan ballots.

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