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Staff Photo by Olivia Ross / The Catoosa County Freedom Center prepares Monday for Georgia voters. Election Day is Tuesday.

Early turnout for the Georgia primary has set a record, as the race for the state Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Mullis in Northwest Georgia remains hotly contested, and Republican voters statewide will decide their secretary of state candidate and who'll face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the general election for governor.

Georgians had three weeks of early voting and can vote Tuesday in person at their polling place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. According to the secretary of state's website, those in line by 7 p.m. will still be allowed to vote. Voters must have a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.

Assigned polling places can be found on the secretary of state's My Voter Page or by calling county election offices.

A statement from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office reported more than 850,000 primary voters cast an early ballot or returned an absentee ballot. That's a 168% increase over the 2018 primary, the last gubernatorial race, and a 212% increase above 2020, a presidential primary year.

Heavy turnout is also a trend in Northwest Georgia.

"Our numbers are definitely up, for sure," said Danielle Montgomery, Walker County's director of elections and registration. "We've almost reached what we did in all of 2018, and we haven't even gotten to election day yet."

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Georgia primary voters head to the polls Tuesday

In the 2018 primary, there were 5,003 ballots cast total. This year, the county has already had 3,773 early voters with 510 absentee ballots returned.

"For Catoosa County, it's been very brisk," said John Pless, the county's public information officer. In this primary, he said, more than four times the number of people have cast ballots at this point compared to the previous midterm election.

"Obviously, there's a ton of voter interest in local, state and national races," he said.

At the top of the state ticket, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is trying to fend off several Republican challengers, including David Perdue and Kandiss Taylor.

Republicans are also choosing their secretary of state nominee, with a recent poll showing incumbent Brad Raffensperger deadlocked with U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.

Republican Chris Carr is running for a second full term as Georgia's attorney general. Republican voters will choose between him and John Jordan, while Democrats decide between Jen Jordan, an Atlanta-area state senator, and Christian Wise Smith, a former Fulton County assistant district attorney.

On the federal level, football star Herschel Walker is facing off against state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and others in the GOP primary to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, in the fall general election.

In the Democratic primary, several candidates are vying to challenge Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for Georgia's 14th District seat in the U.S. Congress. Marcus Flowers has a large lead in fundraising, while Wendy Davis and Holly McCormack have also drawn support.

Republicans challenging Greene in Tuesday's primary include Eric Cunningham, James Haygood, Charles Lutin, Jennifer Strahan and Seth Synstelien.

Closer to home, two Republicans, Steven Henry and Colton Moore, are running to fill the District 53 seat left open by the retirement of Mullis. District 53 includes Dade, Walker, and Catoosa counties as well as part of Chattooga County.

In state House races, Republican District 1 incumbent Mike Cameron is being challenged by Jackie Harling. District 1 includes Dade County and a portion of Walker County.

In District 2, Republican incumbent Steve Tarvin is running against Jim Coles and Todd Noblitt. District 2 is made up of part of the eastern half of Walker County and part of Catoosa and Whitfield counties.

After incumbent Dewayne Hill's retirement in District 3, business owner Mitchell Horner and retired Dr. Darrell Weldon Sr. will face off for the Republican nomination. District 3 is most of Catoosa County.

(READ MORE: Two running for Georgia House seat in northern Catoosa County)

In District 4, incumbent Kasey Carpenter is on the Republican ticket along with Nick Voyles. District 4 is made up of part of Whitfield County. Incumbent Jason Ridley is going up against Lee Coker for the District 6 seat, covering parts of Whitfield and Murray counties. There are no Democratic primaries for those state house races.

There are seven school board seats in Walker, Catoosa and Whitfield counties on the ballot in the primary.

(READ MORE: Northwest Georgia school board candidates discuss new education laws, campaigns)

In Catoosa, three candidates are running for county commission chairman to fill Henry's unexpired term: Larry C. Black, Ernest "Ernie" Pursley and Nick Ware.

In Walker County, voters will decide whether to keep the one-penny Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Democrats have nine ballot advisory questions, while Republicans have eight. The Democratic questions focus on forgiving student debt, offering free preschool, expanding voter access, legalizing marijuana and developing renewable energy. Republicans will be asked about securing the U.S. southern border, big tech censorship, election security and the ability to establish new cities.

(READ MORE: Primary ballot questions spotlight party priorities in Georgia)

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @tweetatwilkins.

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