AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Early voting in Richmond and Columbia counties for Georgia’s Senate runoff wrapped with outstanding numbers. Leaders are hopeful for a similar turnout on Election Day.

Local election officials say early voting in Georgia for the Senate runoff ended with more than one point eight million ballots cast- a record for the state.

“I think that both parties have done a great job at energizing their base and getting people to come out and vote,” said Travis Doss, executive director of Richmond County Board of Elections. “You don’t normally see that kind of energy with a runoff. And, so, I do think that both candidates really had a big push to get people to come out.”

Richmond County saw more than 29 thousand ballots cast and Columbia County saw more than 19 thousand during one week of early voting. 

Doss attributes much of the early turnout to voters changing their preferred method of voting.

“They’re deciding to vote early rather than waiting until Election Day,” said Doss. “And, of course, we didn’t have the long window of absentee as well. So, I think more people came and voted in person that would normally vote by absentee, or maybe even Election Day.”

Columbia County Elections Director Nancy Gay says that voters have been very motivated by their range of voting options. 

“There was a lot of energy last week,” said Gay. “I don’t know if it was just- if it’s mainly because it’s a U.S. Senate runoff race or people just like to early vote…and they appreciate us being here and having the opportunity to cast their ballot when they want to.”

With Election Day on Tuesday, officials are eager to see if this outstanding turnout holds.

“If we can get 40 to 50 percent out of this overall election, I’d be happy,” said Gay.

“We had 52 percent in November,” said Doss. “Of course, I would love for it to be higher. But, you know, it’s really hard to say.”

Still, Doss and Gay expect voting lines to move swiftly on Tuesday. And they remind absentee voters that ballots must be received by 7pm. 

Voters must go to their assigned poll place on Election Day, Tuesday, December 6. Polls will be open from 7am to 7pm. For more information, visit https://georgia.gov/election-2022.