COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County early voters are going to the polls in greater numbers for the U.S. Senate runoff elections than they did for this year's presidential election.
Almost 16,000 — or 20% of all registered Newton County voters — had cast ballots through Monday, Dec. 21.
That total includes 7,300 absentee voters through Saturday, Dec. 19, and 8,500 who cast ballots during the first seven days of in-person advance voting before the Jan. 5 runoff election.
Last week’s turnout far exceeded the 6,659 who voted during the first seven days of advance voting before the Nov. 3 General Election that included the hotly contested presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections, said he was happy the board decided to approve an additional two locations for advance voting the second and third weeks.
He said he believed the election’s national prominence, combined with voter enthusiasm that carried over from the General Election, is helping drive the relatively heavy turnout for a runoff election.
“I thought it was going to happen,” Johnson said.
Locations during the first week included the Newton County Administration Building in downtown Covington and the Newton County Library on Floyd Street during the first week.
Two additional locations opened Monday, Dec. 21, including Zion Baptist Church on Ga. Highway 212 North; and St. Augustine Catholic Church on U.S. Highway 278.
The Newton County elections office also has seen a relatively high number of absentee ballots so far, Johnson said.
Through Saturday, Dec. 19, it was on pace to exceed the total amount of absentee ballots it received for the entire Nov. 3 General Election.
It had received 7,320 absentee ballots through Saturday, which is nearly half of the total received throughout the Nov. 3 election.
Election officials statewide began processing absentee ballots for the runoff Monday, Dec. 21.
The election has received national attention because victories by challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would give Democrats a one-vote majority and shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
More than 1.3 million Georgians already had voted through Saturday, news reports said.
About 54,000 — or 69% of Newton County’s 79,000 active registered voters — cast ballots in the Nov. 3 General Election that included the two U.S. Senate races.
Georgia law said a runoff between the top two vote-getters in each of the Nov. 3 Senate races must be conducted Jan. 5 to determine the winners after none of the candidates won majorities of votes cast in their elections statewide.
Of those who participated in the Nov. 3 election, 15,585 (29%) voted absentee, 20,867 (38%) voted in-person during the three-week advance voting period, and 18,015 (33%) voted in-person on Election Day.
Locations for advance voting in the runoff electon include the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St.; the Newton County Library at 7116 Floyd St. NE; Zion Baptist Church at 7037 Ga. Highway 212 North; and St. Augustine Catholic Church at 11524 U.S. Highway 278.
• Dec. 21 to 23, times will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all locations.
• Dec. 24, times will be from 8 a.m. to noon at all locations except the Administration Building, where it will be open until 5 p.m.
• Dec. 28, voting will be at the Administration Building only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, times will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all locations.
• Dec. 31, times will be from 8 a.m. to noon except at the Administration Building where it will be open until 5 p.m.
• No voting will be done Christmas Day, Dec. 25; or on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.