Updated: Early voting surge has some candidates worried. In the May primary, 10,234 Floyd residents voted. Through Tuesday, almost 7,000 here. Plus: Audio interview with state elections chief on early turnout.

Updated: Early voting surge has some candidates worried. In the May primary, 10,234 Floyd residents voted. Through Tuesday, almost 7,000 here. Plus: Audio interview with state elections chief on early turnout.

Above: Chris Harvey, the elections director for the Secretary of State’s Office, joined us at 8:40 Wednesday morning on the Hometown Headlines Radio Edition on WRGA 98.7 FM to talk about the surge in advance and mail-in voting this election cycle.


A frame grab from the first gubernatorial debate Tuesday night from Georgia Public Broadcasting. Pictured from left are Democrat Stacey Abrams, Republican Brian Kemp and Libertarian Ted Metz.

UPDATE NOTICE: We’ll have Wednesday totals later this morning. The numbers below were as of Tuesday.

 

Spike in advance/early voting continues across Georgia: The surge in early voting in Northwest Georgia is just part of a trend that is sweeping the state this election cycle, all leading up to the Nov. 6 general election. Exactly what it means to the final count, especially at the top of the ballot, is adding surprising urgency to these final 13 days of the campaign season.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is tracking both in-person and mail-in ballots so far this election. The numbers are incredible:

Number of ballots cast through Tuesday: 741,090.
Number of ballots voted in person: 633,362.
Number of mail-in ballots returned: 107,728.
Number of mail-in ballots outstanding: 129,401.

That early rush is part of a concentrated get-out-the-vote-early push, especially by the Democrats. The bus accompanying Stacey Abrams’ visit to Rome and Cartersville — as well as the theme of the visits themselves — centered on voting early.

That push and those numbers have gotten the attention of Brian Kemp, the Republican gubernatorial candidate and Georgia’s secretary of state. Rolling Stone magazine broke a story on Monday featuring a tape from a Kemp rally last Friday where the candidate shares his concerns. From the magazine article:

“Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate expressed worry about early voting and ‘the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.’

“Kemp then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. ‘They have just an unprecedented number of that,’ he said, ‘which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.’ ”

Click here for the expanded article.

Republicans likewise are working the phones. Floyd County’s Young Republicans had a “watch party” for Tuesday’s debate between Republican hopeful Brian Kemp and Abrams, the Democratic challenger. Immediately afterward, the plan was to hit the phones to stump for their candidates.

So how is that playing out locally? In the May 22 primary, slightly more than 20 percent of Floyd County’s registered voters went to the precincts and/or used advance/mail-in ballots, or 10,234 people. We might see that many early voters alone this time around. Here’s an indication:

Floyd County:

5,071 “in person” votes through Monday (that’s at the elections office and Garden Lakes Baptist Church). Monday alone, 1,181 ballots were cast.

6,970: The total number of ballots recorded for Floyd County so far (through Tuesday), including the mail-ins.

Bartow County:

3,281 in-person votes through Friday.

5,381: Total ballots for Bartow through Tuesday.

Gordon County: 

2,634 in-person votes through Friday.

3,914 total votes for Gordon through Tuesday.

Polk County:

2,802 in-person votes through Friday.

3,898 total votes for Polk through Tuesday.


So how do the voting totals so far compare with recent elections? 

Northwest Georgia’s 2018 totals already are way ahead with nine days of advance voting to go (eight in Bartow, Gordon and Polk counties). Advance voting for the May 22 primary showed these advance (in-person) totals:

Floyd: 2,574 votes (More tha double already in the Nov. 6 election cycle).

Bartow: 1,652 votes. (Same thing).

Gordon: 1,128 votes. (More than double)

One more comparison: In Floyd County, A total of 3,103 people voted in advance (in-person) for the 2017 SPLOST, education SPLOST and municipal elections in Rome and Cave Spring.


What’s next:

Advance voting continues through Saturday across the region and state with Sunday advance voting in Floyd County as well. The final week of advance voting is Nov. 29-Nov. 2. After that, it comes down the precincts on Nov. 6, open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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