All week the advance voting turnout for next week's runoff has been high, and on Thursday, the Secretary of State's office provided information indicating just who the early ballot-casters are.
Looking at the number of people who participated in advance voting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the absentee ballots mailed in during that time frame, the dominant gender has been female, the dominant race has been white and the dominant age group has been senior.
According to an analysis of data available on the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site, of the 5,821 early voters, 57 percent, or 3,331, have been white, versus 41 percent, or 2,332, black, even though Richmond County has about 3,200 more black registered voters. Blacks account for about 50 percent of registered voters, and whites make up about 46 percent.
This is not a huge surprise, according to Augusta State University political scientist Ralph Walker, who said whites tend to vote absentee in greater numbers than blacks.
Still, the findings are better news for mayoral candidate Deke Copenhaver than incumbent Willie Mays, he pointed out.
"Who votes absentee most frequently basically have been white Republicans, and, of course, that's Deke," Dr. Walker said. "I would think it would be encouraging for Deke, but I'm not sure it's indicative of what the final vote is going to be."
Lowell Greenbaum, the chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, which has endorsed Mr. Mays, was somewhat taken aback by the fact that nearly 1,000 more whites had cast ballots than blacks since Monday.
When asked if it concerned him, he said, "It doesn't help me; it doesn't make my blood pressure any better."
Of the 5,821 total, females account for about 59 percent so far.
And in terms of age, older voters have far outnumbered younger voters. Through Wednesday, 56 percent of those casting their ballots have been 60 or older, while only 3 percent of early voters have been younger than 30.
Though it's known how many people have taken part in the voting process early, how they voted is still anybody's guess.
Lynn Bailey, the director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, emphasized that no votes will be tabulated until after the polls close on the night of the runoff.
"These are simply ballots cast," Mrs. Bailey said. "According to Georgia law, no votes may be counted until 7 p.m. Tuesday night, so they won't be counted until then."
Thursday's voter turnout at the three polling places also was above the norm, at 1,233. This amount is not included in the Secretary of State's analysis.
Staff writer Mike Wynn contributed to this story.
Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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