By: Charise Frazier, Newsone
More than 1 million voters are expected to vote via absentee ballots in the Georgia Senate runoff races, according to The Hill, which signals an important voting trend around the power of mail-in ballots directly related to the past election season.
Georgia voters and the nation are closely watching the highly contested races where Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively face Republican incumbents Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in separate elections.
Joe Biden campaigned in Georgia on Tuesday during day two of early voting in the Peach State in an effort to help boost favorability for Warnock and Ossoff. On day one of early voting a record 168,000 voters came out which was 40,000 more than on the first day of early voting in the November General Election contest.
In Georgia, around 1.2 million mail-in ballots were requested while around 200,000 had already been submitted to their respective local board of elections as of Tuesday. As many as 67 percent of those who requested mail-in ballots for November’s election requested them again for January’s runoffs, according to the Journal from U.S. Elections Project.
Runoff races in Georgia have historically had low voter turnout. But the numbers show that voters are returning to higher levels of civic participation, attributed to on-the-ground organizers like Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown and Nse Ufot who made with Black and brown voters a priority. About 33 percent of Georgians are Black according to the Census, which rates higher than the national average at 13 percent. Black Georgians also lean more Democratic.
Due to the onset of the coronavirus, mail-in voting in the primary season and the general election was heavily relied upon than previous than years before, giving voters who usually are unable to vote because of work schedules or lack of accessibility, the opportunity to make their voices heard.
It is one of the main arguments why voter suppression occurs in areas with large Black populations. Election officials in Cobb County will audit voter signatures on absentee ballots due to pressure from Trump’s administration over baseless voter fraud claims, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. There are also reports that election officials have reduced the number of dropboxes for voters by 40% in the runoff as compared to the General Election, to make it more difficult for absentee voters.
According to the Pew Research Center, Georgia’s absentee ballot numbers are on trend with the national general election where 46 percent of voters opted for mail-in ballots while 54 percent say they voted in person in November. While Black people were less likely to vote by mail, they were more likely to wait in line to vote over an hour according to the study.
An estimated 160 million people voted in the election, with 101 million of them voting prior to Election Day through early voting and mail-in ballots, according to PBS NewsHour.