Local organization gives final push to get voters to the polls

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 11:30 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 11:43 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The final day of early voting is officially over in the Georgia runoff for a Senate seat, and the turnout has been stunning election officials.

The state had already surpassed 1 million ballots on Wednesday.

As of Friday morning, 23,874 people had cast early ballots in Richmond County, with 15,284 votes so far in Columbia County.

The runoff pits incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock against Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Neither passed the threshold of needed votes in the November election, leading to the runoff.

Election Day is Tuesday for conventional voters, who’ll have to vote at their normal precincts.

A poll by Emerson College and the Hill Found Voters was split 49 percent to 47 percent in favor of Senator Raphael Warnock.

One of the reasons turnout may be so high is because of organizations with boots on the ground, encouraging people to vote.

We tagged along with the New Georgia Project on Friday. Canvassers went out to door knock and asked people about their plans to vote.

They have been focused on getting voters to make a plan to vote.

“We want to get as many people to the polls as possible,” said Augusta Officer Manger, New Georgia Project Emily Greene.

Leaving information, and talking to voters, it’s all part of the New Georgia Project’s push to get people to the polls one last time.

“Voting is not something that should be taken lightly. It can make changes all the way from our local levels up to the state and federal,” she said.

They have been all hands on deck the last few weeks, making sure this happens. And many of the community members they spoke to this week cast their votes early.

“We’ve seen a big upswing this past week with early voting and people who have gone out and done it, and they are proud to have said so,” she said.

In 2021, 30,827 people voted early. We don’t have the exact total for this early voting, but leaders with the board of elections predict between 26,000 and 28,000 people will vote early in this election. With the turnaround shorter, Greene says it’s giving voters momentum to go out and vote.

“They understand that you know, now is the time where they’re still got that energy from November. They seem to feel that sense of urgency and know that their vote counts and that at the end of the day, we want people to know that they’re being heard, they’re being listened to and they’re able to voice their concerns,” said Greene.

MORE POLITICAL COVERAGE:

Georgia has been shattering early voting turnout records, and elections officials think the last day will be no different.

The candidates have had a whirlwind week. Thursday night, former President Barack Obama was in Atlanta to campaign for Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. This was Obama’s second visit to Georgia this election cycle to support his fellow Democrat.

“I’m here today for the same reason I was the last time - to ask you to vote one more time for my friend and your outstanding senator, Raphael Warnock,” Obama said.

Polls show it’ll be a tight race between Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler hosted a “Women for Herschel” event on West Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta. Loeffler, who lost her appointed senate seat to Warnock in 2020, said Walker is the perfect candidate for Georgia women.

“Herschel is going to stand up for women, the things that they need, and their families: for kids having a good education, for safe communities, standing up with law enforcement, supporting our military, and women need to know that fact of this election is women are going to make the difference,” said Loeffler.

Long lines stir controversy

Turnout in the early voting has been so high, there have been long lines in some areas, especially Atlanta.

Some blame the state’s new voting law, which compressed the time for early voting.

“We have layer upon layer upon layer of problems,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University.

“Yes, we have record-breaking turnout, but we have record-breaking turnout because the state has given voters fewer options and has pressured people to make choices they may not otherwise make,” he said.

Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer of the Secretary of State’s Office, stands by the state’s election process.

“The polarizing environment we have, everybody wants to attribute everything in the election administration to some kind of nefarious political maneuver. It’s not,” he said.

“Everybody is just doing the best they can with the resources they have to serve the voters of Georgia under the law.”