Thousands of people across Georgia spent Thanksgiving weekend casting ballots as early voting for the December 6 US Senate runoff between Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker began.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, more than 181,000 voters across the Peach State already cast their ballots Saturday and Sunday — and those numbers broke statewide records, officials said.
Per Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, nearly 87,000 voters participated Sunday, up 130% from the previous Sunday record of 37,785 set during the 2020 presidential election; Warnock’s campaign manager Quentin Fulks, claims that the turnout on Sunday in Georgia was higher than any single Sunday in the 2022 general election, 2021 runoff, 2020 presidential election and 2018 election.
Of those who have already cast their ballots, more than 84,000 votes, or 46.3%, were black and more than 103,000, or 57.2%, were women. While older voters led the way – voters 55-60 cast almost 23,000 votes, representing 12.6% of the turnout, closely followed by 60-65 with 12.4% of the turnout at 22,463 votes – young voters have so far shown one impressive turnout: voters 18-24 accounted for around 10% of the total turnout, around 18,000 votes.
Early voting began Saturday thanks to a lawsuit filed by Warnock challenging a state law that said early voting on a Saturday could not take place after a holiday on a Thursday or Friday. A state judge sided with Warnock, finding that the law did not apply in runoff elections, and the decision was upheld by a state appeals court.
Georgia voters, who have cast their ballots for that US Senate seat four times in the past two years, queued for hours over the weekend to vote. One of those voters was Sen. Warnock, who, according to reporters, described it as an “honor” to be able to vote for himself.
“What an honor to be able to vote for yourself,” Warnock said after casting his vote. “To have the people of your state say, ‘We want you to represent us in high office. We trust you to take care of our families. We trust you are thinking of our children and of our grandmothers and grandfathers.’ It’s a great honor for everyone.”
Warnock led Walker by around 37,000 votes in the general election earlier this month, but the race went to a runoff under Georgian law after neither candidate gained a majority of the vote.
Warnock’s victory in the January 2021 runoff gave the Democrats a 50-50 majority in the Senate, which proved crucial in implementing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tied vote. Democrats hope Warnock, the first black senator elected by Georgia voters, can secure a full six-year term, which would give them a 51-vote majority in the chamber and break the deadlock.
It would also give Democrats majorities on Senate committees, which would give them an advantage in getting legislation and nominations for federal judges and cabinet members out of committee faster.