Georgia records highest voter turnout in the South



Voters motivated by close contests in a swing state

Georgia led the South in turnout during last fall’s midterms, when voters were driven by close races, national attention and nonstop campaigns.

Both turnout data and a U.S. Census Bureau survey released this month confirmed that more voters participated in Georgia than its neighbors.

About 52% of Georgia’s voting-eligible population cast ballots in November, the top rate in the South and the 13th-highest in the nation, according to figures compiled by the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida. Nationwide, 46% of eligible voters turned out.

Competitive races often result in more voter participation, especially in states such as Georgia, where voters believe they can make a difference, said Michael McDonald, who runs the U.S. Elections Project. Advertising, news coverage, door-knocking and campaign spending also contribute to turnout.

“People have a lot of information, they’re being told it’s going to be a close election, they believe their vote is going to matter more, and they’re being told the stakes are very high,” McDonald said. “So people become very interested.”

Turnout can also be influenced by voting laws, McDonald said. Election Day registration and vote-by-mail policies in some states can contribute to voter participation, while laws that limit access can hinder it.

Georgia’s 2021 voting law curtailed ballot drop boxes, prohibited mass mailings of absentee ballot application forms and shortened the time available to request and return absentee ballots. The law also required a second Saturday of early voting in areas that didn’t previously offer it, and the measure continued to allow Sunday voting in counties that choose to provide it.

Overall, 3.96 million Georgians went to the polls, about the same number as in the previous midterms four years earlier. But the turnout rate decreased, from 54% to 52%, because more people were registered in 2022.

Oregon had the highest turnout among states at more than 62%, followed by Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Tennessee had the lowest turnout in the nation at 31%, followed by Mississippi, West Virginia, Indiana and Alabama.

Southern turnout in the 2022 general election

Georgia, 52%

Florida, 48%

North Carolina, 48%

Kentucky, 45%

South Carolina, 43%

Louisiana, 42%

Alabama, 37%

Mississippi, 33%

Tennessee, 31%

Source: United States Elections Project. Figures represent ballots cast as a share of the voting-eligible population, which excludes noncitizens, incarcerated individuals and ineligible felons.