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Voters in Georgia have an extra item on their to-do list this holiday season – voting in runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate, as well as a seat on Georgia’s Public Service Commission.
With less than two weeks before the runoffs, political organizers are trying to make sure every last person is reminded to vote, despite the distraction of the holidays, and it seems to be working.
Although turnout is often considerably lower for a runoff than a general election, this year early voting for the runoffs is almost keeping pace with early voting before the Nov. 3 election. Almost 1.9 million people have already voted early ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs, compared with around 2 million at this point in the general election, according to Georgiavotes.com.
“I know it can be easy to become wrapped up and busy during the holiday season, but we need every single Georgian to remain focused, and dash to the polls this week before Christmas and vote early in person,” said Jason Esteves, treasurer for Georgia Democrats and chair of the Atlanta Board of Education, at a Democratic press conference in Atlanta on Tuesday.
“An Atlanta snowstorm on Election Day could lose this election,” state Rep. Jan Jones told a crowd of hundreds in Milton, Georgia, at a rally for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on Monday. “Finish your Christmas shopping and go vote.”
Democratic lawmakers and party officials are also holding a series of “Dashing to the Polls” events across the state this week to promote early voting, including the one featuring Esteves, which happened outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is currently in use as an early voting site.
Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock released a campaign ad last week reminding Georgians to include voting in their holiday plans.
Outside of Agnes Scott College on Wednesday, there was a short line of people waiting to vote on the day before Christmas Eve. Despite the line, the atmosphere seemed cheery on this mostly sunny day. A food truck sponsored by a voting advocacy group was handing out free hot chocolate and snacks.
“It fits actually quite well because this is my first day of holiday. I’m off today, and I brought my son to join me, and as a bonus he gets free hot chocolate,” said one DeKalb voter, Dan Chapman. He is one of several parents there with children.
Andrew Zamon said voting has been on his mind since he learned there would be runoff races, and he does not mind taking a short break from holiday preparations to cast his vote.
“I’m just trying to get everything ready for the holidays. I’ve got in-laws who’ve been quarantining for a while, anxious to see their grandkids. We’ve been quarantining to make sure it’s as safe as we can possibly do. So going through, cleaning everything, getting ready for the holidays. And it’s nice to actually get out of the house just to come vote and wait in line,” Zamon said.
Zamon says if the general election showed us anything, it’s that people are willing to wait in line because “everyone has skin in the game.”