Georgia 6th District Special Election: Early Voting Surpasses 24,000 Ballots Cast

Jon Ossoff, left, and Karen Handel (Getty/YouTube)

Early voting in Georgia’s 6th district runoff election for the vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives started Tuesday, and data shows that almost 25,000 people have already cast ballots.

The election is between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel to replace former Rep. Tom Price, who was confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to data provided by the Georgia Secretary of State Office, 24,476 ballots were submitted either through the mail or in-person for the June 20 election as of May 31.

Surprisingly, that’s narrowly ahead of the amount of early votes cast in the congressional district during the 2016 general election, New York Times political analyst Nate Cohn visualized with a graphic. Though turnout for early voting is expected to slow down, Cohn said.

Elections analyst Michael McDonald, who runs U.S. Elections Project, compiled the numbers on a graph, and it showed that those who identify as Republicans have voted in larger numbers than Democrats through the two days. A majority of those who have already cast ballots in the election come from the older demographic, too.

But Republicans had a 20-point lead in early voting for the presidential election in the district, and Donald Trump ended up winning it by 1 point. So it’s not entirely clear yet which candidate the early numbers favor.

The numbers that show political affiliation are based on whether voters last participated in a Democrat or Republican primary.

In comparison, over 192,000 early votes were cast in the district in the first round of voting. Through two days of early voting, 1/8th of that mark has already been reached. That could bode well for Handel because of the voting history of the district, McDonald said.

It seems like early voting for the runoff has a good chance to surpass that mark, especially with almost 8,000 new voters in the district registering before the deadline. Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office reported that 7,942 people in the district as of May 31 registered to vote.

That number comes after a federal judge extended voter registration through May 21 due to a lawsuit with how the state handles voter registration in runoff elections. The district now boasts close to 530,000 voters.

The district includes many parts of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, including parts of DeKalb County, Cobb County and Fulton County. Click here to find out how to vote early in the election. Early voting runs through June 16.

The election is being held because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote in the first round, which was held April 18. Ossoff, a first-time politician, gave Republicans a scare by coming up with 48.1 percent. Handel finished with 19.78 percent, meaning they were the top-two candidates in the race, and it headed to a runoff.

The most recent poll in the race, performed by SurveyUSA, showed Ossoff jumping out to a 7-point lead on Handel.

Ossoff and Handel will debate four times before voters head to the booths June 20. The Handel campaign released a schedule of confirmed debates, and it said that the first one is set for June 6 with the next one just two days later.