Early voting brought record turnout in Georgia ahead of Election Day

Most voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 election
Voters wait to cast their ballots at Lynwood Recreation Center in Brookhaven on the last day of Early voting. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Voters wait to cast their ballots at Lynwood Recreation Center in Brookhaven on the last day of Early voting. PHIL SKINNER FOR THE ATANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

More people than ever cast ballots during Georgia’s three weeks of early voting, and over half of all registered voters have already participated ahead of Election Day, according to data released Saturday.

By the end of early voting on Friday, nearly 3.9 million Georgians had voted either in-person or by absentee ballot, which amounts to 51% of all registered voters.

Turnout could reach as many as 6 million voters by the time all ballots are counted after Election Day, state officials say, shattering the previous high of 4.1 million voters in the 2016 election.

State election data show that Democratic Party voters have outnumbered Republican Party voters so far, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While it’s impossible to know how people have voted until ballots are counted on election night, a comparison to voter lists in this spring’s partisan primary indicates more Democratic than Republican voters have turned out so far.

Of voters in the presidential election who also participated in the primary, 54% of them pulled Democratic Party ballots, according to the AJC’s analysis. About 43% used Republican Party ballots, and 2% pulled nonpartisan ballots in the primary. Half of all voters in this election didn’t cast ballots in the primary.

Republicans could make up the difference on Election Day. An AJC poll found that 48% of Republicans said they plan to vote on Election Day compared to 19% of Democrats.

Many of this year’s voters are newcomers since the last presidential election four years ago.

About 28% of voters so far didn’t participate in the 2016 presidential election. Those 1 million voters roughly match the number of new registered voters across Georgia since then.

Black voter turnout is lower than their share of the state’s registered voters, indicating that they have room to grow if many of them show up on Election Day. Black voters account for 28% of votes cast so far, and they make up 30% of all registered voters in Georgia.

White voters made up a larger proportion of early voters, 58% of the total. About 53% of all Georgia voters identified themselves as white when they registered.

The results of early voting give both political parties something to worry about, said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

Republicans need to get to the polls in large numbers on Tuesday, while Democrats will have to turn out more of their Black supporters, he said.

“Neither party should look at the numbers and say it’s all over,” Bullock said Saturday. “We’re in uncharted territory, going from 4.1 million voters in 2016 to 6 million this year. It’s dramatic changes.”

In all, 2.7 million people participated during in-person early voting, exceeding the state’s previous high of 2.2 million early voters in the last presidential election. The biggest day of early voting was Friday, when over 216,000 people cast ballots at polling places.

An additional 1.2 million voters have returned absentee ballots, also a record with more to come before Tuesday’s deadline.

All absentee ballots must be received by county election officials before 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, according to state law and a recent court ruling. Late-arriving absentee ballots will be rejected.

By the numbers

3.88 million: Early and absentee voters through Friday

2 million: Estimated turnout on Election Day, according to state officials

4.1 million: Previous high for Georgia turnout in the 2016 election

7.6 million: Registered voters in Georgia

Source: AJC analysis of state election data