Start of Georgia early voting brings in high turnout of 128K voters

Long lines form outside the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration offices on Monday for the first day of early voting. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

About 128,000 voters went to the polls Monday, a higher turnout than on the first day of in-person early voting in any previous Georgia election, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.

The strong start to early voting could signal even more voters to come during three weeks of early voting. Turnout typically rises as Election Day grows closer, usually peaking on the final days.

The number of in-person voters on Monday outpaced the start of the 2016 election, when turnout reached 91,000. On the busiest early voting day four years ago, about 253,000 people cast ballots the Friday before the election.

High voter interest generated long lines at some polling places, with voters reporting hours-long waits. Early voting lasts until Oct. 30.

When combined with absentee ballots returned so far, over 600,000 Georgia voters have already made their choices in this year’s election. No votes will be counted until after polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Election officials are encouraging voters to cast their ballots early to ease the load on Election Day polling places. The more people who vote in advance, the shorter lines will be next month.

Turnout is expected to break records, with a total of 5 million voters predicted. About two-thirds of voters said in a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they plan to cast their ballots in advance.

The largest number of in-person early voters Monday were in Fulton County, where more than 30 polling places were open and over 16,000 people voted. Fewer early voting sites were available in surrounding counties.

There were more than 15,000 in-person early votes cast in DeKalb County, about 8,700 in Gwinnett County and over 7,600 in Cobb County, according to state election data.

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