Georgia voters are turning out in high numbers for early voting in the runoff election between Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Herschel Walker. 181,711 voters turned out over the weekend, including 166,325 early-in-person voters according to data from the Secretary of State’s Office updated early Monday morning.
The election started last week in some counties that opted into earlier voting including Saturday, but all counties were required to begin early voting by Monday. Twitter pundits noted that many rural counties didn’t embrace the earlier start of voting, an apparent strategic blunder for Republicans who are trying to shift GOP voter culture to embrace early voting, placing Walker behind in the turnout battle. But Georgia Republicans expect their voters to make up for that with turnout going forward, reporting strong rural turnout on Monday.
“I think most of Walker’s voters are going to vote this week, vote absentee, or show up on election day,” Atlanta Tea Party President Debbie Dooley told The Georgia Star News.
Dooley turned in her absentee ballot in person on Monday in Barrow County. She said there was a surprising number of voters there to vote.
“It was a line. It wasn’t wrapped around the building because this is a small, rural county, but people were going to turn out and early vote today, and I saw mostly a kind of Republican crowd there,” she said.
State senator-elect Shawn Still said he’s part of discussions with high-level Georgia GOP operatives.
“I have never read or heard of more Republican enthusiasm for early voting as what we’re having right now. People are waiting one to two hours in line to early vote over the weekend and today,” he told The Star News Monday. “I honestly can’t think of a time we’ve ever had that. I mean this is like Election Day-type lines and we’re seeing it early.”
Still downplayed the importance of Saturday turnout.
“I think that we’ve got some of the most generous early voting laws ever. And if you can’t find time to vote because you only have a Saturday, I’d love to know what career field you’re working in that is so busy and so overwhelming that you can’t break away for an hour or two on a weekday to go do it,” he said.
“I don’t have a sense that Saturday would have had an impact for either candidate. I think it just gave people something to cry foul about,” he said.
Still said Republicans are learning their lessons from the Senate runoffs in 2020, demonstrated by new MAGA enthusiasm for early voting.
“If we remember back two years ago when we lost two U.S. Senate seats, and President Trump told people don’t vote early, don’t trust the machines, they’re going to cheat, they’re going to steal your vote – that rhetoric is gone. And the fact that we’re now, two years later in the exact same situation as the Loeffler Perdue races and now we’re looking at the fact that people are standing in line for two hours to early vote in Georgia, that’s a miracle. It’s an absolute miracle.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Raphael Warnock” by Reverend Raphael Warnock. Photo “Herschel Walker” by Herschel Walker. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Elijah Mears.