As Monday ushers in a stretch of statewide, early, in-person voting in Georgia, runoff voters have already broken a turnout record amid the more sporadic voting opportunities over the weekend.
“Another record has been set in this election cycle,” Gabe Sterling, top lieutenant of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), tweeted Monday morning. “The Sunday turnout of 86,937 voters was 130% higher than the previous Sunday record of 37,785 set on October 25, 2020.”
The day before, 70,050 Georgians voted, according to the secretary of state’s office. Republicans, initially supported by Raffensperger’s office, had tried to take Saturday off the voting calendar.
After suggesting that counties would be allowed to open the voting booths the Saturday after Thanksgiving — counties have to offer early voting from Monday to Friday of this week, but have the option of offering a few more days — Raffensperger reversed himself, telling election administrators that state law prohibits it. The campaign for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and other Democratic entities filed a lawsuit, arguing that Raffensperger was misreading the statute. Republican organizations jumped into the fray, ultimately asking the state Supreme Court to rule the day off-limits; the court unanimously refused to do so, letting a lower court decision stand.
Most of the state’s major metropolitan counties including Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb offered voting on Saturday. All told, 27 counties across the state opened the polls that day.
Some counties saw long lines as voters without flexibility on weekdays, including college students home for Thanksgiving, waited to cast their ballots. Warnock was one of them, spotted in a lengthy queue in Fulton County.
Warnock, who often urges his supporters to mobilize with the family catchphrase “put your shoes on,” has maintained a packed campaign schedule with several public events throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. Former President Barack Obama will rally in Atlanta for Warnock on Thursday.
Republican Herschel Walker, by contrast, will get back to campaigning Monday after holding no public events since last Tuesday. His absence is all the more striking given the newly-curtailed length of the runoffs, chopped in half by Republicans in the state legislature.
Warnock has the edge with campaign cash, and had a four-point lead with likely voters in an AARP poll from earlier this month (one data point amid a very scant polling landscape).
Georgia faith leaders sent an open letter Monday, urging African American voters towards Warnock.
“We believe Herschel Walker belongs in the Football Hall of Fame, but absolutely nowhere near the United States Senate,” they wrote.