Georgia voters arrive early and eager to cast ballots in U.S. Senate runoff

A metro Atlanta voter heads to the polls early Tuesday morning to cast his vote for the Georgia run off election for U.S. Senate on Dec. 6, 2022. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Voters lined up early at the Metropolitan Library in Southwest Atlanta, which also served as an early voting location for Fulton County last week. About 60 people in raincoats and umbrellas to shield themselves from the drizzling rain stood outside at 6:30 a.m., including Clarice Mackey, who had tried to vote here early last week.

“I started to come Monday, and every day the line was wrapped around the parking lot,” she said.

Troy and Cheryl Thomas got up at 5 a.m. to get in line.

“I came here three times last week, and the lines were too long,” said Troy Thomas. His wife had to be at work Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

“This is important, so we needed to be here,” she said.

Voters cast their ballots in Georgia’s runoff election for the U.S. Senate, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

This runoff election will decide the last Senate seat of the 2022 election cycle, as incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is trying to secure a full six-year term and fend off Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

“I came here three times during early voting, but the lines were ridiculous. I would not have made it to work,” said Henrietta Mitchell, who got up at 6 a.m. to get in line to vote Tuesday.

This is the first runoff where Georgia’s new voting law has impacted early voting in a federal election. Prior to the 2021 law, there were nine weeks between the general election and the runoff, with three weeks of early voting. That schedule has been reduced to four weeks, with just one week of mandatory early voting causing long lines at early voting locations. Despite the lines, or because of them, more than 1.8 million Georgians cast their ballots early last week.

“I came a couple of times, but the lines were just so long,” said Hannah Baber, who had also tried to vote early but found herself in line at the library at 6:20 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I’m just real inspired by all the people who were here for early voting and knew it would be busy this morning,” she said. “I just wanted to get her bright and early to make sure that I was in line.”