More than 180,000 votes were cast in the Georgia Senate election

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ATLANTA – In the first and only weekend of the Georgia Senate runoff, tens of thousands of voters cast ballots in the election, Democratic Sen. Rafael G. Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker — the last Senate race of the 2022 midterms.

On Saturday, 70,050 Georgians turned out to vote, using an extra day of early voting as a result of a lawsuit filed by Warnock, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Party. Republicans tried to block the initiative in court, but were unsuccessful.

Among those who voted Saturday were Georgia residents who told The Washington Post that busy schedules made it impossible to vote during the week. These lines included college students on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Neither Warnock nor Walker received more than 50 percent of the vote on November 8, forcing the two into a runoff on December 6. Democrats have already regained majority control of the Senate after the GOP gained a seat in Pennsylvania, but a Warnock win would give them 51 seats and an advantage in caucuses without the need for a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans.

On Sunday, an additional 86,937 people voted. Based on voters in select counties who voted before Thanksgiving and the 15,305 mail-in ballots accepted so far, a total of 181,711 voters had cast ballots by the end of the week.

By Monday evening — all 159 counties have early voting — even more voters had turned up. As of 4:45 pm, an additional 239,160 voters have cast their votes. Gabriel Sterling, a top official in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s office. Sterling said in a brief interview that the total number would exceed 250,000 on Monday and that even more voters could turn up in the days closer to the election.

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By comparison, more than 200,000 people have already submitted a mail-in ballot in Georgia’s last runoff election in January 2021. And more than 1.6 million people voted in the first week, underscoring the different political climate in Georgia and the state. Voting The laws were amended in 2021 with new restrictions on how ballots are cast.

The stakes were high in January 2021, with two runoff elections in a vote that decided control of the Senate.

With face-to-face voting, Georgians had to wait in line for hours in many places to vote. Among them was Warnock, who voted Sunday afternoon in Fulton County. The lawmaker stood in line for almost an hour before casting his vote. Early voting ends on Friday.

Warnock held several public campaign events over the weekend, while his opponent had none. Walker, who has not made any public appearances since Tuesday, will return to the campaign trail on Monday.

Before the election, a group of a dozen prominent faith leaders in the state urged black voters to vote for Warnock, arguing that Walker, a business executive and former college football star, was unfit for the job.

“We believe Herschel Walker belongs in the Football Hall of Fame, but nowhere near the United States Senate,” the faith leaders wrote.An open letter to Georgia’s African American community” was released Monday.

“Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘Nothing in this world is more dangerous than true ignorance and unconscionable stupidity’ – this quote is from Mr. That describes Walker clearly, and we shouldn’t reward his ‘frank ignorance and conscientious stupidity’ by electing America. Senate,” the letter reads.

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Faith leaders argue that Walker has “character” flaws and “strange positions on important issues.”

“While he makes white extremists in Georgia, out-of-state politicians and his close friend Donald Trump happy, as people of faith, our priorities and expectations come from a higher calling,” the letter reads.

The Walker campaign had no immediate comment on the letter.

Warnock released a video over the weekend of Walker’s speeches showing voters reacting with disbelief to Republican comments about vampires, werewolves and “good air” from the US displacing “bad air” in China.

“Not only does it make no sense, I don’t understand what he’s saying,” one woman says in the video.

The ad comes days after Georgia state officials were asked to investigate reports that despite running to represent Georgia in the Senate, Walker was receiving tax breaks only for his primary residence in his Texas home.

Filed by Georgia resident Ann Gregory Roberts complaint Walker argued to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that he was ineligible to register to vote in Georgia because his primary residence was in Texas. By voting in Georgia, Walker broke the law.

CNN first reported last week that public records show Walker is on track to receive a homestead tax exemption in Texas this year, which would save about $1,500 on the $3 million home in the Dallas suburb listed as his primary residence.

Walker took the tax break for his Texas home in 2021 and 2022 even after launching his Senate bid in Georgia, an official with the Tarrant County tax assessor’s office told CNN.

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Walker, who previously played professional football for the Dallas Cowboys, lived in Texas for decades before registering to vote in Georgia in August 2021. He is well known in Georgia due to a storied football career at the University of Georgia.

In a statement, Amanda Sherman-Betty, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said: “Every day Herschel Walker’s dishonesty and disturbing behavior continues — and is proof that he has no business representing Georgians in the Senate. Georgia officials should immediately respond to calls to investigate Walker’s latest scandal, and Walker himself should provide an explanation to voters.

Wagner reported from Washington. Eugene Scott and Asi Babara in Washington contributed to this report.

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