ATLANTA – Two candidates are racing toward the finish line, again, in Georgia.
Polls open across the state Tuesday for election day in a high-profile runoff for the U.S. Senate.
Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is hoping to keep his seat in Washington facing Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
The two went head-to-head last month in the general election and neither got the majority of the vote in order to win. Warnock earned 37,000 more votes than Walker, but he didn’t get the majority needed to win due to a third-party candidate.
“Are you ready to win this election?” asked an exuberant Warnock at a rally Sunday in Atlanta.
He was pushing for voters to turn out on Tuesday and vote for him against his opponent, Walker.
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Walker’s bus tour continued across the state, stopping at the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday in Atlanta.
“If you don’t have a friend, go make a friend and get them out to vote,” he said, hoping to use his football fame to his advantage.
While control of the Senate is no longer on the line — Democrats flipped a seat in Pennsylvania — this election continues to be in the national spotlight.
There has been a lot of mudslinging in political ads and on the campaign trail. Walker has been tying Warnock to President Joe Biden and problems with inflation.
“Most of his (Warnock’s) money comes from California or New York, doesn’t even come from Georgia,” Walker said at a rally.
Warnock has been questioning whether the former football star is fit for office, bringing up fresh allegations of domestic violence.
“He was an amazing running back and he will need those skills because come Tuesday we’re going to send him running back to Texas where he actually lives,” Warnock said at a rally, referring to questions about Walker’s residency.
Both hope their strong base will encourage others to vote for them.
“I will always vote with you because y’all are my family. Get out and vote, vote, vote. We’ve been going around to parts of the state, and I’m trying to shake everybody’s hands to get out and vote,” Walker said.
Warnock said, “It all really comes down to this. We need you to show up. Are you ready to win this election? Are you ready to win this election? We’ve got one more day, so I need you to tell your friends to show up to vote.”
While many Georgia residents may have election fatigue, state elections officials reported record early voting turnout.
More than a quarter of Georgia’s registered voters, 26%, had already cast their ballot by Saturday when early voting ended.
Between absentee voting and in-person early voting, more than 1.86 million people voted ahead of election day.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is confident the results will be safe and accurate.
“These historic turnout levels emphasize that any lawful voter who wants to cast a ballot can do so easily,” he wrote in a statement sent to News4JAX. “Turnout and voter participation is excellent.”
According to Raffensperger’s office, Friday’s total of 352,953 shattered the previous one-day record for early voting in the 2016 presidential election, where 252,715 voters cast their ballots. Monday and Tuesday both showed totals above 300,000 ballots cast, with the lowest total of 286,000 voters going to the polls on Wednesday. Thursday’s total of 298,000 nearly broke the 300,000 mark. In-person turnout throughout the week reached 1,712,651 with total turnout reaching 1,852,593, including Absentee and Military voters.
Voters who have not cast their ballot will need to arrive in person on election day. Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday,
News4JAX will have complete coverage of the race from the state capital, Atlanta, on Tuesday.