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Early voting begins in Georgia as uncertainty over registered voter total lingers

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ATLANTA — Georgia residents cast their first ballots in the state's competitive races for U.S. Senate and governor on Monday, as a lawsuit filed last week continued to throw the number of people eligible to vote in the Nov. 4 election into question.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas said several staff worked on the Columbus Day state holiday to answer questions during the first day of early voting.

Thomas did not have an updated count of registered voters Monday. Registrations were due by Oct. 6 to vote in the fall election and are processed by county election officials.

Georgia's total number of active voters remained unclear because of a lawsuit filed Friday against Kemp and election officials in five counties. The lawsuit asks a state judge to force prompt processing of voter registrations before Election Day. Julie Houk, senior special counsel at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the groups bringing the lawsuit are advising people who aren't yet on their county's rolls when voting early to fill out a provisional ballot.

Supporters of the lawsuit held an event in Atlanta on Monday asking people to commit to voting, and they said they plan to deliver signatures to Kemp's office on Tuesday.

The lawsuit says that more than 40,000 people who participated in a voter registration campaign run by the New Georgia Project are missing from state voter rolls or pending approval lists.

Democrats hope the state's shifting demographics and efforts to register new voters will be to their advantage in November, and the party's candidates in the competitive U.S. Senate and governor races are emphasizing the option to vote early.

Michelle Nunn, who faces Republican David Perdue, told supporters of her bid for Senate in an e-mail that she will vote early Tuesday. Kate Cater, gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter's wife, voted early Monday in support of her husband's run against incumbent Nathan Deal.

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