ATLANTA — Nearly half a million votes have already been cast in Georgia's pair of runoff races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
According to numbers provided by the Secretary of State's Office, 482, 250 ballots were cast across the state during the first day of the early voting period for the high-stakes Jan. 5 election.
Of those, more than 168,000 were cast in person; 314,000 were absentee ballots.
The in-person early voting period for the tight races between Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff began Monday Dec. 14. It lasts through the Friday before election day.
It's strong turnout for what's shaping up to be a consequential election. In order for Democrats to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Republicans - and, by extension, laying a path for President-elect Joe Biden to achieve his goals - they need to win both seats.
If they don't, Republicans would maintain control of the Congressional chamber, likely becoming a roadblock for the Biden administration.
Beating Republicans is a tall order for the Democratic party, which has historically not had success in turning out voters in runoff elections.
But Democrats predict shifting demographics - evidenced by a Biden win in Georgia, a long-time Republican stronghold - will help them in this election.
In a Monday press conference, Gabriel Sterling with the Secretary of State's Office said there have been more than 1 million absentee ballot requests made - many of them through the state's online portal.
As of Tuesday, there were still roughly 905,000 outstanding.