Credit: Sofi Gratas / GPB News
Georgia's early voting turnout so far is Blacker, older than recent general elections
LISTEN: More than 836,000 Georgians have cast their ballots in the 2022 election so far. GPB's Stephen Fowler reports.
After one full week of in-person early voting in Georgia, nearly 838,000 people have already cast their ballots in an election that is expected to shatter midterm records.
According to an analysis of absentee data from the secretary of state's office, turnout is nearly 60% higher than the same point in time in the 2018 general election, thanks in part to record voter interest and the increasing shift in voters utilizing the state's three-week early voting period.
Looking at the demographics of Georgia's voters so far, the electorate is older and Blacker than this time in previous elections, as tightly contested races for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide offices is driving voter enthusiasm.
Georgia does not have party registration, but voter data from the 2022 spring primary shows that around 34% of early voters so far participated in the Republican primary, 32% in the Democratic primary and the rest did not vote in that election. It is unwise to read too much into those numbers: Some Democrats crossed over to vote against candidates backed by former President Donald Trump in that primary, while the Democratic Party's did not have as many high-profile matchups — and, of course, people change their mind about who they support.
Many of Georgia's early voters are reliable voters, with 95% of them participating in 2018, 2020 or the 2021 U.S. Senate runoff. About 37,000 voters did not cast ballots in any of those elections — almost a third of them Black voters. 40% of the 37,000 newly registered in 2022.
Most of the ballots cast so far have been from in-person voting, which is typically how most Georgians cast their ballots other than the 2020 pandemic-era elections. Even so, nearly a quarter of a million Georgians have requested a mail-in absentee ballot under the new rules outlined in last year's massive voting overhaul.
Georgia has some of the most expansive early voting access in the country, spanning three weeks and including two mandatory Saturdays for its 7.8 million registered voters, ending Nov. 4.