In 2008, African American voters turned out in record numbers in Georgia. Most of them took advantage of the state's (at the time) new 45 day advance voting. Here's how it works: For 45 days before election day the elections division office in the county seat of each of Georgia's 159 counties is open during business hours to cast a "no excuse" early vote. The majority of Democratic votes cast in 2008 came from this early voting, Democrats were excited and waited in long lines to bank their votes. Many Democratic precincts only had a trickle of voters on the actual election day, because upwards of 60% of the precinct had already voted early.
But that was just because Obama was on the ballot, right? Couldn't happen again in 2010 when Democrats and African Americans are suffering from a large enthusiasm gap...right?
Wrong! Four years ago in 2006 was a Democratic wave in most of the country but just a business as usual election here in Georgia. Every incumbent except for one of both the Democratic and Republican parties from Governor on down to state House was re-elected. So there was nothing special about it. And back then, we only had 1 week of early voting, the week that immediately preceeds election day from Monday to Friday.
In that period in 2006, about 60,000 African Americans voted. And even though in total African Americans made up 24% of all ballots cast in Georgia, in the early voting period they accounted for less than 17% of voters. Enough background, what is happening this year?
Well, with the final week of early voting not even upon us, African American voters have already cast more than 68,000 ballots. That's more than the 2006 total and we still have 7 days of early voting to go plus election day. By comparison, white voters cast 284,000 votes in the early period of 2006 and have cast just over 202,000 this year.
So with 7 days to go until early voting ends, the African American voters that the pundits said would not and could not come out this year have already outvoted their counterparts from four years ago. If we can get 700,000 of Georgia's approximately 1.7 million registered African American voters to turn out Democrats like Roy Barnes, our courageous former Governor who is running against the corrupt Nathan Deal can win.
Four years ago, 435,000 African Americans turned out on election day to vote in Georgia. With 7 days left and a huge effort by the state party and others to drive early voting, which is expected to pick up big time next week, if we can turn 68,000 into 300,000, we only need to do the same level of election day GOTV as in 2006 to have a record off-year turnout for Democrats in Georgia.
If you live in Georgia, or know Democrats that do, tell them to get themselves to their county seat, or, next week in the larger counties, to one of the designated early voting precincts. Democrats at the Barnes campaign and state party are crossing off voters who have already cast their ballots every day, and this helps us winnow our lists down so that our resources can focus more intensely on the voters who haven't voted yet.
Keep the faith and spread the word! If Democrats vote this year, it will be the Republicans who wake up on Nov 3rd with one hell of an enthusiasm gap!