(The Center Square) — Georgia saw a record number of voters turn out for a midterm election, state officials said.
As of Tuesday, 143,077 voters have cast ballots in Georgia — 131,318 voted early in person, while 11,759 voted via an absentee ballot. The number of in-person voters is an 85% increase from the 70,849 voters who cast ballots in person on the first day of early voting in the 2018 midterm election.
During the 2020 presidential election, 136,739 voters cast an in-person vote on the first day.
Voter access was a hot-button issue during Monday’s Atlanta Press Club debate.
“As governor, I intend to stand up for the right to vote,” Democrat Stacey Abrams said during the debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting. “I will always acknowledge the outcome of elections, but I will never deny access to every voter because that is the responsibility of every American to defend the right to vote.”
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who defeated Abrams four years ago, took umbrage with Abrams’ assertion.
“In 2018, in the governor’s race, we had the largest African American turnout in the country,” Kemp said. Abrams “said that Senate Bill 202, our recent Elections Integrity Act, which we passed two years ago, would be suppressive and ‘Jim Crow 2.0.’ Just this past May, in our primaries, we again had record turnout in the Republican primary and the Democratic primary. In Georgia, it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
However, Libertarian Shane Hazel derided both parties for limiting ballot access for third parties.
“Although you will push for people to have access to going to the polls and voting, you’re not pushing ballot access,” Hazel said. “This is a huge … oppression for people like the third parties, the people that want to get their people on the ballot. We have, I think, 20% Democrats, 20% Republicans in the state of Georgia. That leaves 60% of people in Georgia unrepresented by ballot access laws that both of them support.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor