Early voting reaches record-breaking highs in Georgia


Connie Erdozain

Early voting in Georgia reaches record-breaking highs as Election Day approaches. Within the Midtown community, students and staff encourage each other to vote.

Shea Edwards

Georgia has seen record-breaking early voting turnout during this year’s Midterm elections. Around two million voters and counting have participated in voting in the election. Early voting continues until Nov. 4, the weekend before official voting day Nov. 8.

Many eligible Midtown students and faculty have participated in early voting. Midtown High Votes senior co-president Imani Johnson has worked to increase voter participation at Midtown. She believes that early voting is essential to increasing turnout and has 

“Especially in Georgia, this election is not one that we can skip out on in good conscience,” Johnson said. “I think that when we vote, we allow ourselves to write the future in a way, but when we vote early we are better equipped to make our democracy a priority, while also ensuring that we have a say as citizens in this country.”

Senior Keegan Kronenberger voted early because he won’t be able to vote on election day. He thinks that early voting is more efficient than voting on Election Day.

“[The voting process] was really nice,” Kronenberger said. “I didn’t actually have to say a word the whole time; the process took all but 10 minutes.”

Social studies teacher Chris Rhodenbaugh, the faculty sponsor for Midtown High Votes, said early voting can help solve registration issues to guarantee that all votes are counted.

“In a time where voter suppression is a reality, where there are lots of new regulations and challenges that make it possible for people to be disenfranchised, when you vote early, you can check online a few days later and verify that your vote was counted,” Rhodenbaugh said. “If these issues are only looked into on election day, the stakes are much higher.”

Kronenberger also appreciates the pleasant nature of early voting.

“Your vote is done and you don’t have to worry about stressing on Election [Day],” Kronenberger said. “There are so many other factors that could impact the day and how easy or hard it may be for you, early voting eliminates that.”

Another reason for early voting is the flexibility that it allows.

“Early voting means you can vote anywhere in your whole county. It means that you can vote near where you go to school, where you work, nearby your house or anywhere in between,” Rhodenbaugh said. “On election day, you have a very specific precinct that’s near your house. They change a lot, so people don’t know their precinct locations unless they’ve been voting there for a long time; that aspect makes it confusing sometimes.”

As early voting generally has a two to three week period for people to vote, Rhodenbaugh said that anyone can find time to vote. Johnson believes early voting is more than just casting a ballot.

“Life happens,” Johnson said. “People have busy schedules, and we as teenagers have school, jobs and after-school activities that can get in the way of our ability to get to the polls on election day. Voting early isn’t just something you can say that you’ve done, but It’s something that affects the whole entire outcome of an election.”

Johnson uses her position as a part of Midtown Votes to promote early voting at Midtown, especially among seniors. 

“When the leaders of the club talk about early voting, the big thing that we try to invoke is the idea that your vote is powerful, and that voting early is one of the most powerful things that you can do as a human being in this country,” Johnson said. “I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to witness a community take hold of their power, especially when it comes to early voting.”

Midtown Votes co-president Courage West-Tankoo emphasizes the issue around accessibility in elections. She said many people don’t get Election Day off because it isn’t a holiday, which makes early voting essential.

“Early voting is vital to a healthy democracy,” West-Tankoo said. “Without early voting, millions of Americans would not be able to vote because a lot of people can’t take off work or work long hours.”

Johnson says that in this election, the dramatic increase in early voting turnout in Georgia shows that many care about ensuring their voices are heard.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people in this election– especially in Georgia have been pushing early voting in a really aggressive manner. It seems that everyone who encourages others to vote, has put an emphasis on early voting to increase voter turnout,” Johnson said. “It’s really special to see our peers looking out for others to ensure that their vote gets cast.”

West-Tankoo also sees Georgia as an example of election progress.

“The scrutiny put on the election systems is at an all-time high across America. There has been a consecrated effort to delegitimize early voting,” West-Tankoo said. “However, Georgians have come out in record numbers which will ultimately be beneficial when it comes to Election Day voting and election integrity.”

Rhodenbaugh is excited about turnout but is concerned that the recent plateau means overall voting participation will be less than in previous elections. 

“[Early voting] was up by a lot at the beginning. Which I think represents activist enthusiasm, but it’s now starting to flat line,” Rhodenbaugh said. “It’s still on pace, and there is more awareness on voter suppression, which I think shows how we’ve built a culture that early voting is a good thing; but, at the same time, I think that the number [of voters] won’t be significantly more than in 2018, and that’s something I’m nervous about.”

Johnson said he hopes this election will lead to increased youth participation  in general, midterm and local elections.

“Often, we only hear about voting whenever it comes to electing the president. That’s when it seems efficient and important for youth to get to the polls,” Johnson said. “In retrospect, a lot of the issues that affect teens, especially LGBTQIA+ teenagers and teenagers of color can be resolved and voted on within district representatives, mayors, governors, and the leaders who reside within counties.”

She hopes current increased turnout will set the precedent for future elections.

“All I’m saying is that if we keep it up, and keep showing up to the polls early, then we will have done our job as Americans,” Johnson said. “We’ll have shaped our Democracy.”