Early voting opened Monday in Georgia, home to critical midterm races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and statewide offices from governor to secretary of state.
Georgia’s new election law allows for in-person voting for parts of the next three weeks (less than 17 days total) until Election Day on November 8. Until election day. An earlier version of the controversial measure sought to block Sunday’s vote, but the version enacted by state Republicans last year allows counties to decide.
Turnout is expected to top the state’s latest midterm figures after 2018, but will likely drop from 2020, when the presidency was up for grabs. Joe Biden won the state two years ago, becoming the first Democratic candidate to hold a GOP stronghold since Bill Clinton won in 1992. Two months later, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated a pair of Republican Senate incumbents. the second election to give their party a majority in the chamber, and the Democrats trifecta of government in Washington.
But a volatile economy, dominated by inflation and high gas prices, along with the usual backlash against a first-term president, has threatened Democratic control of Congress. The fate of the Senate, which is split 50-50, could give Warnock the ability to hold off Republican candidate Herschel Walker in what will be a tight race.
In the House, where Republicans need to flip a handful of seats to regain the majority, southwest Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District is perhaps the only competitive partisan race in the Deep South. Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, first elected three decades ago, faces a challenge from Republican Chris West, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is hosting a fundraiser in Georgia on Monday. Former Vice President Mike Pence is slated to attend the event, along with officials from the state’s GOP congressional delegation, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Voting has also begun in statewide races, starting with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign for a second term in a rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp has led in the race polls and will debate Abrams on Monday night.
Also on the ballot is GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. He is challenged by Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen and Libertarian Ted Metz, who ran for governor four years ago.
This will be the first major election to be held in Georgia since the new voting law was passed last year. The law sparked an outcry from civil rights and business leaders. Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the law — which includes a shorter window for voters to request mail-in ballots, new voter identification requirements and a limit on early voting drop boxes — that critics say was designed. Eliminating minority participation after sweeping Democratic presidential and US Senate elections.
Turnout in this year’s Georgia primary has been strong despite the new restrictions. But Democrats remain critical of the law.
Warnock, in a debate with Walker on Friday, said: “There’s no doubt that SB 202 (the new law) makes it more difficult to vote, and that’s the intent. And the fact that many of our voters are overcoming that difficulty doesn’t undermine that reality.”
The election also followed a federal court ruling against a lawsuit filed by Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Abrams after the 2018 election, that asserted Georgia’s voter registration policy, absentee ballot cancellation practices and registration inaccuracies. . Unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.