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Using data posted by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, I looked at the number of absentee & early votes which have been cast through last night, July 8th, in the four state legislative districts which are holding special elections on Tuesday, July 14th. The numbers were surprising:
As a benchmark, I compared the number of early votes in each district to the total of advance in-person and absentee by mail votes cast in this past November’s General Election.
For geographic reference, Districts 48 (Fulton County) and 80 (DeKalb & Fulton Counties) are in the metropolitan Atlanta area. District 146 (Houston County) is just south of Macon, GA, while District 155 encompasses all or parts of five counties in the south-central part of the state.
With just two days remaining for advance in-person voting, the amount of early votes cast in Districts 48 and 80 is staggeringly low. In both cases, the ratio of early votes versus my November benchmark is only about 3%. While there are some mail-in ballots which have yet to be received, the number of them is not terribly significant. Earlier this summer, there was another special election in Fulton County, in state House District #55. Absentee and advance voting was fairly low in that race as well, totaling 6.7% as compared to November.
The number of early votes recorded in both Districts outside of Atlanta, HD 146 and HD 155, represent approximately one-quarter of the amount of advance and absentee votes cast in November.
Although I haven’t yet studied it in detail, it is certainly plausible that folks in the Atlanta area vote in greater proportion on Election Day, as compared to employing absentee or early voting. But, without the media attention of statewide contests for Governor and U.S. Senator, it is hard to escape the conclusion that less early voting will correspond to low turnout overall in Tuesday’s elections in HD 48 and HD 80, as compared to the other two races.