Turnout battle: More Republicans casting ballots in early voting for general primary

An early voting sign at Chastain Park Recreation Center. (Credit: Nava Rawls)

An early voting sign at Chastain Park Recreation Center. (Credit: Nava Rawls)

Key Points
  • Turnout in Georgia early voting down 36% from 2022.
  • Democratic voters “disaffected,” political strategist says.

The Gist

Whether they’re concerned with a Georgia Supreme Court race or women’s reproductive rights, voters showed up to cast early ballots this week in the Georgia primary election. And Republicans embraced the opportunity more than Democrats, continuing a trend in recent years.

“This isn’t Democratic voters becoming Republicans. This isn’t even a massive turnout of Republicans,” Atlanta political strategist Fred Hicks told State Affairs. “What it is is Democrats are disaffected and they’re staying home in key blocs, particularly African Americans.” 

At Chastain Park Recreation Center, Atlanta attorney Stephen Mooney cast his vote with an eye on a Georgia Supreme Court race.

“I felt it was important to cast a vote. We have one candidate who’s putting his personal views over just calling balls and strikes. I want to make my voice known,” Mooney said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who is running a campaign centered on protecting women’s reproductive rights, is challenging incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson.

Mooney, who identifies as Republican, said he typically votes early in elections. For the upcoming cycle, he said he’s concerned with crime, the economy and world affairs, including the conflict in Gaza.

Katherine Hernacki, who mostly votes Democrat, said she tries to cast ballots at every opportunity to make sure her registration didn’t expire and to preserve her vote.

“I would say that right now one of the biggest motivating factors for me is protecting women’s rights to reproductive freedom,” Hernacki, 50, told State Affairs.

She and Mooney both said current Georgia state officials have been doing well, specifically when it comes to the economy.

What’s Happening

As of Friday morning, according to GeorgiaVotes.com, 453,035 Georgians had cast early votes. Republicans outpaced Democrats, 242,140 to 203,305. There were 7,545 nonpartisan ballots cast.

The Secretary of State could not provide the party breakdown of primary election turnout for 2020 and 2022.

The total turnout for the 2024 primary is 36% lower than it was in 2022. 

“This will be the fourth straight statewide election where Republicans have outpaced Democrats,” Hicks said. 

More Republican voters turned out in the 2022 primary and general election as well as the presidential primary in March and now this one, said Hicks, who has worked on Democratic and Republican campaigns across the country for the past 20 years. 

There was a little positive news for Democrats: The Georgia Secretary of State’s office said more Democrats — 15,008 — voted absentee than Republicans. Records show 14,835 Republicans cast mail-in ballots.

Why It Matters

Primaries historically have had low turnout, and this election cycle is no different. As of Friday morning, 6.4% of Georgia’s 7 million registered voters had cast ballots in person or by mail.

Ahead of the general election in November, primaries give voters an idea of who the candidates are. As campaigns continue, citizens get an early opportunity to form their political opinions.

What’s Next?

Friday, May 17, is the last day of early voting in Georgia’s primary election. Polls will reopen Tuesday, May 21, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The general election will happen Nov. 5.

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Have questions, comments or tips? Contact Tammy Joyner on X @lvjoyner or at [email protected].

Contact Nava Rawls at [email protected].

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