Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger discusses absentee voting in Georgia amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Beau Evans)

ATLANTA – Georgians have taken to early voting in a big way.

The Peach State ranked second in the nation for early voting last November, according to a new study released by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The report found that 58% of Georgia voters cast their ballots before Election Day, up from 48% in 2018.

“Georgia leads the nation in voter access, election security, and innovation,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “Georgia voters have the confidence that they can cast their ballot easily, and that their vote will count.”

Raffensperger famously refused then-President Donald Trump’s request to “find” enough votes to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results in January 2021. Democrat Joe Biden had carried the state the previous November by 11,779 votes.

Since then, Raffensperger has defended the security and accuracy of Georgia elections and backed innovations to further improve the voting process.

In May, he announced the state will be conducting “health checks” in all 159 Georgia counties. The health checks will examine election management systems, ballot marking devices, and scanners to verify that the software used in last year’s elections has not been changed.

The new study found that Georgians voted early last year more than any other state except Texas. At the same time, only 6% of Georgia voters cast their ballots through the mail, returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Only about one-third of voters waited until Election Day to cast their ballots in person, which kept lines at the polls short or nonexistent in most precincts.