More than 180,000 ballots cast in early voting in Georgia Senate runoff


ATLANTA — In the first and only weekend of early voting in the Georgia Senate runoff, tens of thousands of voters cast their ballots in the election pitting Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock against Republican challenger Herschel Walker – the last senatorial competition for mid-terms of 2022.

On Saturday, 70,050 Georgians turned out to vote, using an extra day of early voting stemming from a lawsuit filed by Warnock, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the state’s Democratic Party. Republicans tried to block the effort in court, but were unsuccessful.

Among those who voted on Saturday were Georgia residents who told the Washington Post that busy schedules made voting impossible during the week. The lines also included students at home for the Thanksgiving holiday who preferred to vote in person rather than relying on mail-in voting.

Neither Warnock nor Walker received more than 50% of the vote on November 8, forcing the two to a runoff on December 6. Democrats have already regained majority control of the Senate after winning a GOP-held seat in Pennsylvania, but a Warnock win would give them 51 seats and a committee advantage, without needing a power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

On Sunday, an additional 86,937 people cast their ballots. That number, combined with voters in some counties who cast ballots before Thanksgiving and the 15,305 mail-in ballots accepted so far, means a total of 181,711 voters had voted by the end of the weekend.

By Monday evening — with all 159 counties offering early voting — even more voters had shown up. As of 4:45 p.m., an additional 239,160 voters had voted, according to Gabriel Sterling, a senior official in the office of Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In a brief interview, Sterling said Monday’s total number could top 250,000 and even more voters could turn out in the days closer to the election.

By comparison, more than 200,000 people had already submitted a mail-in ballot on the first day of early voting in Georgia’s last runoff ballot in January 2021. And more than 1.6 million had voted in the first week, highlighting Georgia’s different political environment and state. vote laws, which were revised in 2021 with new restrictions on how ballots are cast.

The stakes were higher in January 2021, with two ballot elections that decided Senate control.

Thanks to in-person early voting, Georgians had to line up for hours in many places to vote. Among them was Warnock, who voted Sunday afternoon in Fulton County. The lawmaker waited in line for almost an hour before he could vote for himself. Early voting ends Friday.

Warnock held several public campaign events over the weekend, while his opponent had none. Walker will resume campaigning on Monday, having held no public events since Tuesday.

Ahead of the election, a group of a dozen prominent religious leaders in the state have urged black voters to vote for Warnock, arguing that Walker, a business executive and former college football star, is not fit for work.

“We think Herschel Walker belongs in the Football Hall of Fame, but absolutely nowhere near the US Senate,” the faith leaders wrote in a “open letter to the African-American community in Georgia,” posted Monday.

“Round. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “nothing in this world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and stupidity of conscience” – this quote clearly describes Mr. Walker, and we must not reward his “ignorance sincerity and stupidity of conscience ‘in electing him to the United States Senate,’ the letter reads.

Church leaders argue that Walker has both “character” flaws and “quirky stances on critical issues” that would make him a poor legislator.

“While he may make white extremists in Georgia happy, out-of-state politicians and his close friend, Donald Trump, as people of faith, our priorities and expectations on the issues stem from a higher calling,” the letter reads.

The Walker campaign had no immediate comment on the letter.

Warnock released a video over the weekend featuring speeches by Walker showing voters reacting in disbelief to the Republican’s comments about vampires, werewolves and America’s ‘good air’ replacing the ‘bad air’ in China, among other topics.

“Not only does it make no sense, I don’t even understand what he thinks he’s saying,” a woman says in the video.

The announcement comes days after Georgia state officials were asked to investigate reports that despite competing to represent Georgia in the Senate, Walker is getting a tax break on his home in Texas which is n was only intended for a primary residence.

Georgia resident Ann Gregory Roberts filed a complaint to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arguing that Walker is ineligible to register to vote in Georgia because his primary residence is in Texas. And that by voting in Georgia, Walker broke the law.

CNN first reported last week that public records show Walker is on track to get a Texas homestead tax exemption this year, which would save him about $1,500 for a $3 million home in suburban Dallas listed as his primary residence.

Walker took advantage of the tax break for his home in Texas in 2021 and 2022 even after he launched his candidacy for the Senate in Georgia, an official with the Tarrant County Tax Assessor’s Office told CNN.

Walker, who once played professional football for the Dallas Cowboys, lived in Texas for decades before registering to vote in Georgia in August 2021. He is well known in Georgia due to a long football career. completed at the University of Georgia.

In a statement, Amanda Sherman-Baity, spokesperson for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said: “Every day, Herschel Walker’s pattern of dishonesty and troubling conduct grows longer – and it is further proof that he doesn’t have to represent Georgians in the Senate. Georgia authorities are expected to respond quickly to the call to investigate Walker’s latest scandal, and Walker himself owes voters an explanation.

Wagner reported from Washington. Eugene Scott and Azi Paybarah in Washington contributed to this report.

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