Voting on Monday shatters previous high set in 2016 presidential election

Georgia voters set a single-day early turnout record Monday as 301,500 people stormed to the polls on the first day they were open in most counties ahead of the U.S. Senate runoff.

Turnout was even higher in the runoff Monday than it was during presidential elections, surpassing the previous high of 253,000 early voters on the Friday before Election Day in 2016.

With just one week of statewide early voting before the runoff, many voters went to polling places at once, compressing turnout into a few days. Early voting is normally spread over three weeks during nonrunoff elections.

Voters faced lines in metro Atlanta, often between 30 minutes and an hour but sometimes longer, according to voters and county websites that show wait times.

Early voting will run through Friday, with election day set for Dec. 6 in the race for the Senate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker. The runoff became necessary when neither Warnock nor Walker won a majority in the Nov. 8 general election.

Heavy turnout on Monday built on a solid weekend of early voting, which was available in 34 counties that chose to offer it before this week. About 157,000 people voted on Saturday and Sunday.

Turnout so far, including absentee ballots, stood at 504,000 through Monday. During the general election earlier this month, total turnout reached 3.96 million voters.

Fewer days of early voting are available in the runoff because Georgia’s voting law passed last year shortened the period between general and runoff elections, from nine weeks to four.

The tight turnaround left five mandatory statewide days of early voting, though county governments had the option of starting sooner last week.

Voters can find voting locations and hours through the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov. About 2,430 local precincts will be open across Georgia on election day.

ExploreAJC vote tracker: Early voting turnout in Georgia's runoff