Early voting in Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff kicked off Tuesday in at least one of the state’s 159 counties, as Democratic-led legal efforts to expand early election voting options continued. .
Voting in general elections certification on monday by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger allowed some voters to vote for Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock or Republican nominee Herschel Walker days ahead of schedule.
Early voting in the second round of elections could not begin until the November 8 general election results were certified and the decision to allow in-person early voting occurred at the county level. So far, only Douglas County in the greater Atlanta area was scheduled to open polls Tuesday and Wednesday. Neighboring DeKalb County will open a polling place on Wednesday. Early voting is due to begin statewide on November 28 and end on December 2, although counties now have the option to offer a few extra days this week.
The certification of the vote and the launch of the second round comes after Georgia bursts all the latest early voting turnout figures from earlier this month. Warnock and Walker’s battle for the Senate seat was sent to a runoff when neither candidate received 50% of the state’s total vote.
“Our 2022 general election was a huge success,” Raffensperger said after certifying the Nov. 8 votes. “The early certification reflects that success. Georgia has struck the balance between accessibility and security, and Georgia’s election administrators have worked tirelessly to get the job done. We are so grateful for their work.”
Warnock won his 2021 seat in a runoff election against former Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, during which time the balance of power in the Senate rested on his shoulders and those of his now-Democrat Senate colleague, then Rep. . Jon Ossoff, who was also battling in overtime for his seat against former GOP Sen. David Perdue.
Turnout in this election was comparable to the general election. Warnock declared victory after securing the majority of 4,484,954 votes in the second round of elections in 2021, while 4,914,361 ballot papers in the 2020 general election.
Spokesman for Georgia’s Secretary of State Robert Sinners told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday that the office also expects “high turnout” in this election.
The Warnock-Walker showdown won’t determine who controls the U.S. Senate, but Democrats have been holding their breath for a favorable outcome because a majority of 51 seats would greatly facilitate the exercise of power. Republicans also applied political pressure to winning the contest, pointing to the successes they were able to achieve in an evenly divided Senate.
“When Herschel wins we will have a 50/50 Senate. Okay? Now it would be better if we were 51, 52, 53 but by winning it we can block bad legislation because it takes 51 more to do that stuff,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said during the race for Walker last week in Augusta.
The start of early voting comes amid widespread confusion over Georgia’s early voting process.
A Georgia appeals court left in place on Monday a lower court order allowing counties to offer to vote on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the upcoming runoff election, which has been mooted by the Warnock campaign and other Democrats. On Tuesday, national and statewide Republicans filed an emergency motion with the Georgia Supreme Court to block Saturday’s vote.
For his part, Walker has made comments in recent weeks that he’s not sure early voting will even be allowed in runoff elections, noting that the process should be kept on the shorter side.
“They have a day? Two days ? One week ! One week ? “, he said at a recent campaign event when told there would be a vote before the second round.
Ongoing legal challenges against early voting on November 26
Earlier this month, Raffensperger told county election officials that early voting could not continue on the Saturday after Thanksgiving because state law says it is illegal on Saturdays if there is a day. public holiday on the Thursday or Friday preceding it.
Warnock’s campaign, the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sued the state of Georgia earlier this month, arguing that Raffensperger “misinterprets” and “chooses” state election law and that the state’s ban on opening election sites after a holiday applies to general elections and primaries, not runoffs.
On Monday, a Georgia appeals court denied a state request to stay a lower court’s ruling that state law allows early voting that day.
Then on Tuesday, the Republican Party of Georgia, the Republican National Senate Committee and the Republican National Committee filed an emergency motion with the Georgia Supreme Court to block that day’s vote.
The call comes as a growing list of counties have begun offering voters that date – more than 18 have announcement they will offer early voting on Saturday, November 26.
The Georgian Senate run-off drew high-profile surrogates down the stretch
As voting has now begun for the contest, the national starpower has also begun planning campaign events for their respective candidates.
On December 1, former President Barack Obama will return to Atlanta to campaign for Warnock and encourage Georgians to vote during the final days of in-person early voting.
Obama also came to Georgia in the last days ahead of the Nov. 8 general election race, in which the Warnock campaign said large swathes of rally attendees signed up to take part in knocking quarters.
Warnock did not commit to bringing down President Joe Biden to boost his run, noting that he “runs out of time” in the race to bring down the current Democratic flag bearer.
“We’ll see, we don’t have a lot of time,” he said at a campaign event last week. “We’ll see who shows up.
Walker did not respond to questions from ABC News about whether his party’s former leader, Donald Trump, would be asked to campaign for him, while other GOP surrogates like Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and recently re-elected Governor Brian Kemp jumped on the trail on his behalf.
National and statewide Republican officials have warned that a Trump 2024 announcement could upset Herschel Walker’s chances in the runoff. Yet during Trump 2024 presidential announcement last week, he specifically voiced his support for Walker.
“We must all work very hard for a gentleman and a great person named Herschel Walker, a fabulous human being who loves our country and will be a great United States Senator,” Trump said.
Just days after the comments, Warnock – who tried to highlight his rival’s closeness to the former president, particularly after Trump-backed candidates suffered a number of midterm election losses generals – posted an announcement broadcasting these remarks along with photos of the two of them together. At the end of the 30-second commercial, a message appears: “Stop Donald Trump. Stop Herschel Walker.”