Early voting is surging in Georgia.
With high profile, crucial and competitive races for U.S. Senate and governor, nearly 400,000 people cast ballots from the start of early voting on Monday through Wednesday, according to the latest numbers from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. That’s an early voting record in the key southeastern general election battleground state.
"The counties have worked tirelessly alongside our office to encourage Georgians to cast their vote early," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger touted in a statement Thursday. "County election directors are getting the job done and Georgians know it."
And it’s not just Georgia.
In neighboring Florida, a longtime swing state that’s trended reddish the past couple of years, nearly one million have already cast their ballots. And over 400,000 in both Pennsylvania and Michigan, two other crucial swing states, have also already voted, according to the latest update from the University of Florida's U.S. Elections Project.
Nationwide, nearly 5 million people have already cast ballots according to U.S. Elections Project figures — 781,000 by in-person early voting and 4.2 million through mail-in ballots.
University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who oversees the Elections Project, highlights that early voting turnout so far in the 2022 cycle is higher than usual for a midterm election, and substantially ahead of the pace in 2018, which was the last midterm contest.
"There’s a couple of reasons for that. One is that some states have made it easier to vote early, so you’re adding to the supply of early voting," McDonald told Fox News.
McDonald called early voting "an earned behavior that’s been going on for quite a while. We’ve seen a percentage increase in voters who are casting an early vote in election after election…. Voters have learned the behavior of voting early. Once you do that method of voting, you’re more likely to do it again."
And he noted that early voting "went off the charts" in the 2020 cycle, amid the coronavirus, which was the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century. "It not a surprise that compared to 2018 we’ve seen this rise," he added.
According to figures from the U.S. Elections Project, more than half of the ballots cast early come from voters over the age of 65, with 35% coming from those age 41-65.
Breaking the early voting numbers down by party registration, 52.4% of the ballots were from registered Democrats and 29.5% were from Republicans. But it’s important to note that these numbers come only from the states that have party registration and are not actual votes.
And by federal law, election officials do not begin counting ballots until Election Day, although in some states they’re allowed in advance to begin the process of preparing ballots for counting.
"All cycle long, Republican candidates met voters in their communities and addressed the issues Americans care about, and on November 8th Democrats will soon find out what a united Republican Party looks like when we take back the House and Senate," RNC spokesperson Emma Vaughn told Fox News, when asked about the early voting figures.
But McDonald cautioned against reading too much into these early numbers.
"I still think to know where we’re at, we still need to wait until the week before the election. These are just preliminary numbers," he told Fox News. "We have to see if this gets sustained throughout the entire early voting period."