Voters in the US state of Georgia headed to the polls on Tuesday to select their candidates for the US midterm elections in the state that former president Donald Trump falsely claims was stolen from him during the 2020 presidential election.
A record amount of people voted before the primaries: more than 710,000 votes had been cast in the state's early voting period, which ended on Friday, the Georgia secretary of state's office said.
This marks a 180 per cent increase from the same point during the early voting period in 2018 and a 149 per cent increase compared to 2020.
David Perdue, the former senator aiming to oust incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, trailed by more than 20 points in the polls heading into Tuesday, data from RealClearPolitics show.
Mr Perdue's defeat would be an embarrassing loss for Mr Trump, who had reportedly talked him into running for governor.
Mr Trump has sought to push out the Republican leadership — including Mr Kemp and Secretary of State Ben Raffensperger — in Georgia after they refused to overturn President Joe Biden's win. The Georgia governor looked to be in trouble when Mr Perdue announced his candidacy in December, but Republicans stayed with Mr Kemp.
A Kemp victory would set up a rematch with Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who is running unchallenged in her party. The Democrat widely credited with delivering Georgia to Mr Biden in 2020 narrowly lost her gubernatorial race against Mr Kemp two years prior.
Battle for the US Senate
Republicans see Georgia as a key state to retake the Senate after Democrats Reverend Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff claimed the state's two seats in 2020.
Mr Trump's pick for a Republican nominee, former University of Georgia American football star Herschel Walker, appears far ahead. Walker was leading five competitors for the Republican Party nomination with 63.6 per cent of the vote, polling averages from RealClearPolitics show.
If nominated, Walker will challenge Mr Warnock — who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination — in November.
Walker has repeatedly lied about his academic record, making false claims that he graduated in the top 1 per cent at the University of Georgia and that he was class valedictorian at Johnson County High School in Wrightsville, Georgia. Walker did, in fact, not graduate and the high school did not start awarding class valedictorian until 1994.
An election contest between the two men in November would mark the first time that two major party candidates for US Senate in Georgia were black.
Races to watch in US House of Representatives
Trump-backed candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to fend off several Republican challengers.
Ms Greene is no stranger to controversy. The Georgia representative was stripped of her committee assignment in the US House last year for embracing conspiracy theories and apparent support of violence against Democrats.
A group of voters unsuccessfully attempted to knock her off the ballot.
Sunny Shopshire Knauss, owner of Sunflour Community Bakery in downtown Rome, Georgia, which Marjorie Taylor Greene represents, said that the town is oddly quiet.
"We're home to one of the most interesting and oddly contentious races in the country so you'd think there would be a little more activity, but I believe most people already voted."
Ms Knauss, a life-long Democrat, did something that many in Georgia never thought they would do : she voted in the Republican primary against Ms Taylor Greene.
"I've talked to a lot of people who did the same thing, anything to get Marjorie Taylor Greene out," she told The National.
Ms Greene's Democratic competitor will likely be Marcus Flowers, a long-shot candidate and Army veteran who has raised millions of dollars to unseat her in her solidly Republican district.
Meanwhile, Democrats Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux are facing off after Ms McBath switched districts because of redistricting.
Ms MacBath said her bid to remain in Congress was to push for gun safety laws on behalf of her son, Jordan, who was fatally shot 10 years ago.
Ms Bourdeaux has been endorsed by former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young; Sam Nunn, a former US senator; and four incumbent Georgia state representatives. Ms McBath has been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts; James Clyburn, a US representative from South Carolina; and the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.
Voters in Arkansas and Alabama on Tuesday will also decide their parties' nominations for the US midterm elections.