COVINGTON, Ga. — More than two-thirds of Newton County voters cast ballots early or absentee in the highly-publicized Tuesday, Jan. 5, runoff election for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.
The runoff was required after neither of the top two vote-getters in each of the U.S. Senate races and the PSC race won majorities of votes cast in their elections statewide Nov. 3.
Final voter turnout in Newton County was 60% (48,817 out of 80,538 registered voters), which was lower than 69% for the General Election, but marked a new record high for a runoff. In a 2008 U.S. Senate runoff, only 22,546 voted in Newton County.
For Tuesday’s runoffs, approximately 39% were advance voters and 33% were absentee by mail. The remaining 28% — about 17,000 — were Election Day voters.
In the Nov. 3 General Election, 33% voted on Election Day and 29% voted absentee, which indicates about the same number of Democrats returned to vote in the runoffs but not as many Republicans because Election Day voting participation was higher in Republican-dominated precincts.
Only 5,690 fewer Newton County voters turned out for the Jan. 5 runoffs compared to the Nov. 3 General Election (54,507).
Turnout at individual precincts ranged from as high as 75% at Hub (northeast unincorporated Newton) to as low as 50% at City Pond (northeast Covington and part of Oxford). Overall turnout of all kinds of voters was generally higher percentage-wise in Newton County precincts won by Republicans.
Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won Newton County’s vote on the way to their narrow statewide wins over incumbent Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
Ossoff won a full six-year term. Warnock will complete the last two years of the Senate term left vacant by the 2019 resignation of Johnny Isakson for health reasons.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to serve in the seat until this year’s election.
Democrat Daniel Blackman of Cumming won a majority of Newton County votes but lost the statewide vote to incumbent Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald of Clarkesville.
Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections said he believed the Senate election’s national prominence, combined with voter enthusiasm that carried over from the General Election, helped drive turnout.
Warnock finished with 28,284 votes (57.9%) of 48,772 ballots cast in Newton County. He only had 6,593 election day votes compared to Loeffler’s 9,548, but Warnock drew 10,020 absentee by mail votes and 11,671 early votes. Loeffler had just more than 10,000 votes in those respective categories combined.
Ossoff finished with 28,137 votes (57.7%) of 48,751 ballots cast in the county. While he only had 6,532 election day votes compared to Perdue’s 9,604, Ossoff more than doubled Perdue’s absentee and early voting totals with more than 20,000 votes.
Warnock and Ossoff each won 13 of 22 county precincts — one better than President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 3. Both parties’ candidates’ highest percentages came from Crowell (90%) for Democrats and Mansfield (88% and 89%, respectively) for Republicans.
Tuesday’s election received significant national attention because victories by Ossoff and Warnock now give Democrats 50 seats in the U.S. Senate and shift the balance of power from Republicans because Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to break any ties.
Publisher and editor Taylor Beck contributed to this report.