With three weeks left before polls close in two U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine the balance of power in Washington, a record number of early voters cast their ballots in person in multiple counties, according to reports.
Following close races in November, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are hoping they unseat incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue when polls close on Jan. 5. Last month, the difference in votes between candidates running for both Senate seats was small enough to trigger a runoff.
Both parties have pumped millions of fundraising dollars into the state, understanding the implications of Senate control when Democrats are in charge of both the White House and House of Representatives.
As early voting kicked off on Monday, it was evident voters knew the gravity of the moment. Election officials in Richmond County, which includes Augusta, said on Monday that one of the county’s major voting centers recorded 2,022 in-person voters by 5 p.m., marking a single-day record for early voting.
On Tuesday morning, election officials in Muscogee County also said they are expecting their early voter numbers for the runoff to match records notched in the November races. More than 3,400 people voted in Muscogee County on Monday, according to Muscogee County Elections Office Supervisor Nancy Boren.
Additionally, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced in November that more than 762,000 absentee ballots have been requested for the runoffs, also marking a record. The state allows voters to cast ballots by mail without providing a reason for not doing so in person.
In Georgia, the early voting period runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 1, although dates and hours of operation for polling places can vary by county.