Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Black turnout high in early voting…

October 3, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Politics

(Akiit.com) Atlanta, GA – A disproportionate number of Georgia’s 194,138 early voters are African-American, in what could be an encouraging sign for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

As of Wednesday, about 39 percent of those voters — 74,961 — are African-Americans, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel’s office said.

African-Americans make up 29 percent of registered voters in the state, according to Oct.1 figures. They cast 25 percent of the total votes cast in the presidential election four years ago.

The secretary of state tracks racial breakdown in order to ensure compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.

The high African-American turnout comes as the state’s early voting program is picking up steam.

The program is intended to head off congestion on Nov. 4, when record turnout is expected.

Early voting began last week in most counties and will continue up until Election Day. Registration, though, cuts off Monday.

About 20,000 Georgians people per day voted by mail or in person last week, Handel spokesman Matt Carrothers said.

This week, its close to 30,000 per day, he said.

Spokesmen for both parties said they welcomed the high turnout generally, but downplayed any signficance for either presidential campaign.

Assuming high black voter turnout benefits Obama “is an easy generalization to make,” said state Democratic Party spokesman Martin Matheny.

He said the campaign and party were “talking about issues that cut across demographic lines. I think you’re doing a disservice to the electorate if you break it down that way.”

Ben Fry, executive director of the state Republican Party said high turnout in general is no surprise.

“There is obviously a tremendous amount of interest in the upcoming presidential election,” he said in an emailed statement.

But “while pundits and politicos keep busy trying to read the tea leaves of polls, projections and these incomplete numbers, real Georgian are comparing the two candidates for president.”

Those Georgians, he said, will choose Sen. John McCain.

About 30 percent of the early voters so far come from four metro Atlanta counties: DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb.

Local party officials have been pushing early voting.

Melanie Goux. a vice chairman of the Fulton County Democratic Party said party officials launched a program months ago — Don’t Wait In 08 — to encourage early voting and registration.

The program is deliberately low-tech, and aimed at an audience that won’t be reached by the Obama campaign’s web-based get-out-the-vote efforts, Goux said.

“The African American community is not a monolith,” Goux said. “We have a large section that is affluent and can be reached through the Internet. And we have a section that is low tech. We need to get the information to people who don’t use the web.”

DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties have all launched early voting programs modeled on Fulton’s, Goux said.

The Fulton County Republican Party has emphasized early voting for the past two elections, executive direcor Brandon Phillips said.

But they started two weeks earlier this year, sending out post cards and working phone lists to remind voters to vote early, he said.


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