Editorial: Voters turned out en masse for the general election, let's keep the momentum going

During the 2020 general election, Democrat Joe Biden received the most votes of any presidential candidate in the history of the United States.

Who has the second most most votes of any presidential candidate? President Donald Trump, in that same 2020 general election.

As of early Friday evening, Biden was carrying 73,798,761 (50.5%) popular votes compared to Trump's 69,841,001 votes (47.8%). And there are more votes still to be counted.

Of course, the popular vote does not determine the presidency -- that's done through the Electoral College, which by press time Friday did not have either candidate with the requisite 270 votes to win. Biden had a 264-214 lead.

The massive turnout at the polls on Election Day, during early voting and through absentee/by mail could be a sign of increasing interest in politics, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

In Georgia, some 5 million Georgians voted early in the general election, which is a record in line with the predictions of state election officials. Before Election Day, about 4 million Georgians had already voted -- more than 1.2 million by mail-in and nearly 2.7 million during advance voting.

In Whitfield County, voter turnout for the 2020 general election was 67.34% as 36,870 of 54,749 eligible voters cast their ballots. Turnout for the 2016 general election, which featured Democrat Hillary Clinton vs. Trump for the presidency, was actually higher as a percentage at 77.9% but lower in the number of votes 30,362.

This time around, local voters made their voices heard through different methods. On Election Day, 12,033 votes were cast. Advance voting saw 18,310 votes tabulated. And due to the new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), 6,527 people voted absentee/by mail.

We are certainly pleased to see the large turnout, but these types of numbers are typical for a presidential election. We challenge voters to show this much zeal for voting when the ballot isn't as sexy.

Whether it's a one-off special election for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) or a ballot that has mostly local races for city councils and school boards, voter turnout should be higher than the usual 10% to 20% range.

If you're not registered to vote, get registered. If you are registered and don't vote, get out and vote.

You'll have another opportunity in less than two months. That's when there will be at least one runoff-- perhaps two -- in Georgia for the U.S. Senate on Jan. 5..

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