Georgia is voting in a new governor in 2018, and people turned out in droves to cast their votes early. Highlights included a big surge on Friday that saw 250,000 people cast their ballots. By the end of the three-week early voting period, approximately 2.1 million votes were cast ahead of the election Tuesday.
The turnout was so enthusiastic that Georgia approached the overall turnout of the last midterms four years ago when 2.6 million people voted. What’s more, those midterms included Election Day.
The number of early voters sets a record high for a midterm election in the state, and it doubled from the 2014 midterm election when approximately 954,000 people voted. According to WSB-TV, early voter turnout of this magnitude “was previously unheard of outside a presidential election year.”
Another statistic of note, per the independent vote-tracking website Georgia Votes, is that women voters outnumbered their male counterparts during the early voting periods. They cast 55 percent of ballots ahead of Election Day.
And, in case you’re wondering how the candidates plan to handle major issues, here’s a summary of some of the most pressing issues facing Georgians today, along with Stacey Abram’s and Brian Kemp’s stance on them.
Budget and Taxes
This topic could be the biggest difference between the two candidates, according to the AJC, with Brian Kemp wanting to cut income taxes and cap state spending that’s been “adjusted for growth and inflation.” He also wants to pull the plug on tax incentives that are “wasteful.”
Stacey Abrams at first said she would reverse a state income tax, but has since backtracked the statement and says that she would let the Georgia income tax cut stand. Abrams supports tax credits that make child care more affordable and supports families in a lower income bracket.
Brian Kemp is against expanding Medicaid but he will support getting federal waivers that will aid the stabilization of insurance premiums. He additionally supports the increase of the rural hospital tax credit program. Stacey Abrams, on the other hand, supports a health care plan that will expand Medicaid for the poor.
The candidates for governor have different visions for education issues, and Secretary of State Kemp is in favor of the “school choice” effort. He plans to support it by “doubling the state tax credit for student scholarship organizations.” He also plans to increase charter school funding and is proposing $600 million in an annual plan to increase the pay for teachers.
Stacey Abrams’s plan for education is more expansive and might even be more expensive. She supports a “historic investment” in public schools and in early childcare learning. She also supports the same investment in needs-based higher education scholarships. The Democratic candidate says that she held off deeper cuts to the Hope Scholarship by working together with Republicans to keep the program “solvent.”
The Republican candidate is counting on a voter base that believes in guns and ammo. Brian Kemp supports “constitutional carry” that allows gun owners to carry concealed handguns without needing a permit. He opposes new gun restriction and wants to end certain “gun-free” zones. He supports having a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition.
His Democrat opponent wants a responsible attitude towards weapons and proposes a plan that charts a “new course” on gun control. She favors stricter gun legislation, including universal background checks for the private selling of firearms. She additionally supports repealing the “campus carry” legislation that allows permit holders to wield weapons on college campuses.
Criminal justice issues expose widely differing views that the two candidates have on this matter. Brian Kemp refers to gang violence as a “public safety crisis.” His plans include creating a new unit in the state attorney general’s office for combating this particular brand of crime. Kemp is additionally against cultivating medical marijuana in the state of Georgia.
If elected, Abrams says she’ll cut out “the use of cash bail” for impoverished defendants. She also supports the decriminalization of marijuana, “ending capital punishment” and “expanding accountability courts.”
Brian Kemp takes a harder line on immigration than Stacey Abrams does. He proposes implementing a database system that tracks unauthorized immigrants that have criminal convictions. Kemp is also in favor of measures that will speed up their deportation. Stacey Abrams opposed Georgia House Bill 87, and said that it has “harmed our immigrant and refugee communities.”
Like immigration, Brian Kemp takes a hard line approach on abortion and has pledged to implement some of the strictest restriction on it. Stacey Abrams is against any further restrictions on abortion. Additionally, Planned Parenthood endorsed Abrams during her primary campaign.
If you would like to see more of the candidate’s issues and see them in more detail, see the links below.