The 2018 midterm elections haven’t even happened yet and already they’re making history. Yesterday, news broke that early voting in Texas had shattered previous records, with some counties seeing more early voting than they had actual election-day votes in the past two elections.
Today, new reports from the deep-red state of Georgia are making it clear that something truly unique is unfolding across the United States. Despite the best efforts of Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Brian Kemp, early voting numbers are off the charts — which likely means good things for Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.
On Monday, Kemp’s office announced that Georgians had already cast 2,071,830 votes, which is over double the previous record of 945,507 early votes from 2014.
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Many see the strong early voting numbers as a boon for Democrats, as writes NYMag’s Ed Kilgore: “All things being equal, high turnout should be good news for Democrats, particularly in a midterm when, traditionally, the young and minority voters who now favor the Donkey Party do not tend to participate in proportionate numbers.”
Teresa Tomlinson, the Democratic mayor of Colombus, Georgia, writes in the Daily Beast that “over 40 percent of the early voters are minorities [from counties] where Abrams is thought to dominate. A solid 30 percent are African-Americans where Abrams enjoys over 90 percent support.”
Tomlinson believes that the high early voting numbers are a testament to Abrams’ state-wide outreach campaign and her willingness to campaign in rural areas usually neglected by statewide office-holders, especially the 50 or so diverse counties that make up the “black belt.”
She has invested in the black belt and worked every county in Georgia for the first time in decades. As a result we seeing an over 300 percent increase in early voting in heavily Democratic urban counties like Clayton, and we are seeing big increases throughout the black belt.
While others worry that the high early voting numbers may be cannibalizing turnout on Election Day, it might end up being a positive after all as thunderstorms threaten to put a damper on turnout tomorrow.
In a statement that was somehow released with a straight face, Kemp announced that “in Georgia, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat, and I am incredibly proud of this new record showing strong voter engagement leading up to tomorrow’s election. This milestone is a testament to the hard work of thousands of election officials all across Georgia who are dedicated to secure, accessible, and fair elections for all.”
His words are a bitterly cynical attempt to whitewash the substantial role that he and his office have played in repressing the vote of African-Americans across his state.
Locked in a heat election battle with Abrams, Brian Kemp has been previously caught admitting to donors that he was “concerned” about the high level of voter turnout and voter energy for Abrams.
So far in this election cycle, the state of Georgia has kicked over a hundred thousand people off of the voting rolls, suspended the applications of 53,000 more would-be voters, and rejected nearly 600 absentee ballots.
It’s clear that political energy is at an all-time high, and we have to work as hard as possible to make sure that we change the course of American history tomorrow.
Abrams is set to be the first woman African-American governor in American history, and these historic numbers could be the first sign of the wave that’s going to propel her to victory.