A record 788,535 people have requested ballots ahead of the two run-off elections on Jan. 5 that will decide control of the US Senate, Georgia’s secretary of state’s office tells The Post.
The figure, the latest number as of Tuesday morning, amounts to nearly three times the number of ballots requested during the 2018 midterms, when just under 285,000 votes were cast by absentee.
On Monday, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the state Election Board voted to extend the use of 24/7 ballot drop boxes for use during the run-offs. The boxes were set to expire in late December.
All eyes have focused on two Senate battles in Georgia, both with GOP incumbents. The current balance of the Senate is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats, meaning that whichever way these two seats go will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.
If Democrats were to win both seats and keep the body evenly split, tie votes would be broken by the vice president, Kamala Harris, thus giving Democrats a single-vote majority.
The first race has incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler facing off against Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.
Loeffler was not elected to her seat; she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the vacancy left by Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned in December due to health concerns.
The second race pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against incumbent Sen. David Perdue.
When the two went head to head during the Nov. 3 election, Perdue was unable to reach the 50 percent threshold required by the state in order to declare a winner. Perdue led Ossoff 49.7 percent to 48 percent.
As a result, the race was sent to a run-off.
Interest in the two Senate contests has continued to rise as both parties express confidence that they can emerge victorious.
President-elect Joe Biden narrowly carried Georgia over President Trump, marking the first time a Democrat carried the Southern state since Bill Clinton defeated former President Georgie H.W. Bush in 1992.
Democratic strategists have said once-red Georgia is within reach for their party, but GOP analysts have argued it will be harder for the left to convince their voters to come out in an election without Trump on the ballot.
A staggering $200 million is expected to be spent by both parties on political advertising and a massive get-out-the-vote effort.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has gone as far as to warn out-of-staters that it is punishable by law if they moved to the Peach State for the sole purpose of voting.
“Make no mistake about it, I will seek to prosecute those who try to undermine our elections to the fullest extent of the law,” he said in a statement last week. “The integrity of our elections is paramount. Outside groups who seek to interfere with democracy in Georgia should be forewarned that the consequences will be severe.”