Georgia early voting shatters records despite election reforms Dems labeled 'voter suppression'

Georgia early voting outpaces 2018 and 2020 elections despite passing election security law

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Georgia has seen record-breaking turnout for early voting despite passing an election security law last year that critics panned as "voter suppression" and President Biden said harkened back to the era of "Jim Crow"

"The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county election officials," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said of the numbers Wednesday. "As Secretary of State, I promised to strike a strong balance between access and security in our elections, and these numbers demonstrate that I kept that promise and that voters have confidence in Georgia’s elections."

Georgia has seen 539,297 people cast ballots as of Tuesday, far outpacing the 182,684 by this point in the 2018 midterm primary elections, according to data compiled by Georgia Votes. 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The numbers have even outpaced those posted during the 2020 presidential election by 156%, an election that saw election officials encourage early and mail-in voting to decrease crowding during the pandemic. 

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But the chaotic finish to the 2020 election raised fears of election security in the state, something the state's Republican majority attempted to tackle by passing the Election Integrity Act of 2021.

Republicans argued that the bill would both secure future elections in the state while making it easier to vote, implementing an ID requirement for absentee ballot requests in addition to mandating three weeks of early voting with availability on weekends.

But the law was widely panned by critics, with President Biden calling the legislation the return to the days of "Jim Crow."

"At a time when parts of our country are backsliding," Biden said at the time. "The days of Jim Crow, passing laws that harken back to the era of poll taxes, when Black people were made to guess how many beans — how many jelly beans in a jar, or count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap before they could cast their ballot."

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The new law caught the attention of Major League Baseball, which pulled the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the law, arguing that it restricted access to voting.

"I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," he continued. "Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support."

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

That move was supported by former Democratic State Rep. Stacy Abrams, a voting rights advocate running in Georgia's gubernatorial election, who said she was "proud" of the league's stance "on voting rights."

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"Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression," she wrote on Twitter last year. 

But the economic impact on Abram's home city of MLB's decision was vast, with the league's all-star game in the past generating close to $90 million for the city that hosts it.

The Abrams campaign, MLB and the White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.

Georgia's election law also faced criticism from some of the state's most well known companies, with both Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines coming out in opposition to the law.

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"The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy and those rights not only need to be protected but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said at the time. "After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong."

Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey largely echoed Bastian, saying that the company was "disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation."

"Voting is a foundational right in America, and we have long championed efforts to make it easier to vote," Quincey said. "Throughout Georgia’s legislative session, we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting."

Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams. (Getty Images)

Neither Delta or Coca-Cola immediately responded to a Fox News request for comment.

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But Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp defended the law from the onslaught of criticism, arguing the legislation did "not suppress anything" while comparing the new law to what is being done in New York.

"We have 17 days of in-person early voting. New York has 10. This bill adds the opportunity for people potentially to vote on two optional Sundays, which would give potentially some counties 19 days," Kemp said at the time

"Are we boycotting them because they're in New York? No," he added. "This is just the cancel culture, and I will tell you, the people at home should be scared because their ballgame is next, their business will be next, their way of life will be next."

Kemp's defense of the law was reminiscent of former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who faced withering criticism after Wisconsin passed its own election security law in 2011.

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Walker took to social media Wednesday to celebrate the voter turnout in Georgia, noting that Wisconsin has seen similar results since his legislation passed over a decade ago.

"When I signed a photo ID to vote law on 5/25/11, the head of WI ACLU called it an 'unnecessary voter suppression measure,'" Walker said on Twitter. "In 2020, more than 70% of the eligible voters cast a ballot-higher than before the law. We see the same thing in GA. 

"Make it easy to vote, hard to cheat!" he added.