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AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Georgia's state primaries

As of Thursday, there were more than 8 million registered voters in Georgia.
Posted at 11:20 AM, May 17, 2024

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters head back to the polls in Georgia on Tuesday, two months after helping Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump secure their parties' nominations for president.

This time, voters will choose nominees for the U.S. House and the state legislature, as well as decide whether one of Trump's prosecutors will keep her job. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the prosecution of Trump in a 2020 election interference case, faces challenger Christian Wise Smith in the Democratic primary. Smith is an attorney and author who ran against Willis four years ago.

The judge in the case is also up for reelection. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee faces Robert Patillo, an attorney and radio host, in the nonpartisan race. McAfee is a former prosecutor who was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.

Georgia has neither a governor’s race nor a Senate race on the ballot in 2024, so the state’s 14 congressional districts are the only federal races with primaries on Tuesday. The only open seat is in the solidly Republican 3rd Congressional District, held by retiring incumbent Drew Ferguson.

Of the remaining 13 incumbents, 10 are running uncontested in their primaries. The other three are Democrats Lucy McBath and David Scott and Republican Barry Loudermilk. McBath is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District, a west Atlanta district that was redrawn in redistricting. She represents the 7th Congressional District.

Scott has represented the 13th District for more than two decades, though his district, like McBath’s, changed significantly in redistricting. His primary has attracted the largest field. Loudermilk, who represents the 11th District, has two challengers in the Republican primary.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Tuesday:

PRIMARY DAY

Georgia’s state primary election will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT

The Associated Press will provide vote coverage for 84 races, including contested primaries for U.S. House, state Senate, state House and Fulton County district attorney. General elections will be held for state Supreme Court, state Court of Appeals and Fulton County Superior Court judge. The presidential primaries were held in March.

WHO GETS TO VOTE

Georgia has open primaries so voters can choose either party ballot.

DECISION NOTES

The key county to watch is Fulton, part of the core metro Atlanta area.

Besides Fulton's significance in statewide races — it has more than 1 million residents and is among the most Democratic counties in the state — the county is split across five congressional districts. Among those are the districts Scott and McBath are running in.

Since the judicial races are taking place entirely within one county, the AP will declare a winner only when enough votes have been reported in Fulton County to determine the winner.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

There is no automatic recount provision in Georgia, but a losing candidate may request a recount if the margin is less than or equal to 0.5% of the total vote. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.

WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?

As of Thursday, there were more than 8 million registered voters in Georgia. Voters in Georgia do not register by party.

In the 2022 primaries, turnout was about 11% of registered voters in the Democratic primary and about 17% in the Republican primary. About 51% of Democratic primary voters and 41% of Republican primary voters in that election cast their ballots before election day.

As of Wednesday, a total of 351,652 ballots had already been cast in the state primary, about 54% in the Republican primary and 44% in the Democratic primary.

HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

In the March 12 presidential primary, the AP first reported results at 7:08 p.m. ET, or eight minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 1:18 a.m. ET with 99.8% of total votes counted.

ARE WE THERE YET?

As of Tuesday, there will be 168 days until the November general election.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.