By Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 17, 2020
Turnout had more than doubled compared with 2016 before Georgia’s presidential primary was postponed, with over 275,000 ballots cast during two weeks of early voting.
Those votes will be counted, but not until the rescheduled Election Day on May 19.
Democratic Party voters in particular turned out this year, casting more ballots in 11 days of early voting than they did in all of 2016’s advance voting period, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.
About 70% of early voters chose Democratic ballots this year, with 12 candidates listed. President Donald Trump was the only candidate on Republican ballots.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the Democratic Party of Georgia agreed Saturday to delay the election because of the coronoavirus, cutting off early voting before its final week when turnout usually soars. At the same point in 2016, about 127,000 people had voted.
In all, more than 2 million voters were expected to participate in this year’s presidential primary, either early or on Election Day.
Another three-week period of early voting will start April 27. Voters who already cast their ballots for president will be able to vote in other federal, state and local races. Voters who hadn’t yet participated in the presidential primary will be able to vote in that race as well.
During the last day of early voting on Saturday, nearly 24,000 people showed up, the second-highest turnout of any voting day this year.
The busiest voting day in Georgia occurred on March 3, when 29,000 people voted in person as interest in the race hit a high point on Super Tuesday, which was Election Day for voters in 14 other states.
There were still more than 30,000 absentee ballots that election officials mailed to voters but hadn’t been returned as of Monday night. Those ballots will be counted if county election offices receive them by March 24. After that date, voters can request new absentee ballots that include all races in the May 19 primary.
The vast majority of early voters, 88%, cast their ballots in person during early voting in Georgia.
That number will likely drop during the May primary, when election officials will encourage voters to mail in their ballots and avoid human contact at voting locations.