BRUNSWICK, Ga. – When voting opened across Georgia at 7 a.m., a line of people were waiting at the polling place at the Camden County High School in Kingsland.
Tuesday was the last day voters can be heard in the state’s twin Senate runoffs that had already attracted more than 3 million voters -- near the same level as pre-election day voting in the presidential election in November.
While only Georgians can vote, the eyes of the nation are on the results. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, are challenging incumbent Republicans’ David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the race that will determine which party will control the Senate.
The Democratic Party needs both Ossoff and Warnock to win to gain control, while Republicans only need one of their candidates to maintain their majority.
No matter who wins these races, there will be a razor-thin majority in the Senate. That means the Democrats and Republicans will duke it out again for control of the chamber in the 2022 midterms.
“I’m not sure if it’s any more important, but I think anytime you vote, it is important,” a Camden County voter said. “I’m just thankful to be able to vote. We moved into the community just three or four months ago. I wasn’t able to vote in the last one because I didn’t have my driver’s license yet. So, I’m ready to go. Ready to make up for what I didn’t do last time.”
Turnout in runoff elections is typically much lighter than general elections, but by late afternoon, Glynn County’s supervisor of elections, Christopher Channell, was impressed by the numbers of voters who turned out.
“A lot more interest. A lot more participating,” Channell said. “Didn’t have the early-morning rush that we had on Election Day (in November), but it’s been steady throughout.”
A big question is whether there’s enough enthusiasm from Republican voters after claims of mass fraud in Georgia by President Trump during the November election. State Republican leaders have faced criticism.
In an AP VoteCast survey of voters, among those who voted for Perdue – 57% approve of how Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp handled the results of the November election, while 42% disapprove. Among those who voted for Ossoff, 44% approve of Kemp’s handling on the election results, compared to 54% who disapprove.
The spending on political advertising has soared to almost half a billion dollars. Even Jacksonville television was saturated with political advertising with the candidates doing everything they could to reach Georgia voters in the viewing area.
Pro-Republican outside groups dramatically outspent their Democratic counterparts by approximately $115 million to run ads, according to figures from AdImpact, a leading national ad tracking firm. But in ads paid for by the candidates themselves, the Democratic challengers outspent the GOP incumbents.
There were other races on the runoff ballot, including a seat on the Georgia Public Service commission and two St. Marys City Council races where no candidate received at least 50% of the vote in November.
“We also have to do our local and state race too as well, because it all trickles downhill,” another Camden County voter said. “It goes to show people that if you voice your opinion, it’s heard. You can do so much with that.”
Everyone News4Jax spoke with Tuesday said they felt good precautions were in place at the polling places to prevent the spread of the virus.