Voters wait to cast early ballots in December 2020 at a Midtown polling station for the runoff election. This year, after weeks of early voting, Georgia’s primary election takes place Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)(Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The final countdown is underway!

Primary election day takes place on Tuesday, May 24. The state has seen a major spike in early voting this election cycle and it’s ignited a debate about Black voter suppression.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is pushing for the city to host the Democratic National Convention in 2024. Dickens also argued in favor of a $15 million investment into the city’s art scene, part of a bond referendum municipal residents will vote for or against on Tuesday.

Here’s a rundown of the political news you need to know heading into the weekend.

Record turnout for early voting sets off voter suppression debate

There’s been a huge surge in the number of Georgia voters casting their ballots early during this primary election cycle, and it’s got a lot of people talking.

Republican leaders say the increased early voter turnout proves Democrats’ concerns about voter suppression in Georgia are unfounded.

Those concerns have increased over the last two years in response to the GOP-led state legislature passing a series of election integrity bills after baseless Republican claims about widespread voter fraud taking place during the 2020 presidential election.

Voting rights advocates and Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, have argued the GOP enacted the state’s new voting laws to dampen Black voter turnout, which increased during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles and led to a series of key wins for the Democratic Party in Georgia.

Despite the new laws, Republican leaders say four times as many Black people voted early this primary election cycle compared with the same period in 2018, citing secretary of state data.

Leaders from the New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter acknowledged and took credit for the increased early-voter turnout, saying it’s evidence that Black voters are motivated to cast their ballots in spite of the state’s new election laws.

The groups’ leaders also said the growing number of early ballots cast proves their voter registration and education activities throughout the state have been effective. 

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Atlanta is bidding to host 2024 Democratic National Convention

Dickens on May 13 announced plans for the city’s bid to host the Democratic Party National Convention in 2024.

The 47-year-old Democratic mayor made the announcement during the party’s annual state dinner at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel, along with U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

“We are going to do everything in our power to bring the 2024 Democratic National Convention to Atlanta, Georgia,” Dickens told the audience during the event.

The deadline for the city to submit its proposal is May 27, according to the mayor’s office. In April, the Democratic National Committee sent letters to eight cities — including Atlanta, Chicago and Houston — asking them to submit bids for the party’s 2024 convention.

Georgia has become a battleground state for Democrats in recent years. In 2020, Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state’s electoral votes in nearly three decades.

Dickens said that makes Atlanta well-positioned to win the competition to host the 2024 convention, which would bring an estimated 45,000 people to the city for four nights to celebrate the party’s presidential nominee.

Dickens breaks down $15 million city art investment proposal

Dickens visited a Black-owned city art gallery on Wednesday where he argued in favor of a proposed $15 million investment for municipal art.

“Fifteen million dollars programmed correctly and leveraged correctly with philanthropic infusions — we can really get a long way,” Dickens told reporters during the event, according to WABE.

The art investment is part of a $750 million infrastructure spending package that Atlanta residents will vote on this coming Tuesday, May 24.

Dickens joined local artists at the ZuCot Gallery in the Castleberry Hill district on May 18 where he explained why he believes the proposed art investment is a worthy venture.

“I’d want to see some catalytic work that takes place,” he added. “Whether that’s an arts district, whether that’s something physical that we can all see as an installation that’s iconic — but also things that support local artists and local art organizations.”

Chauncey Alcorn is Capital B Atlanta's state and local politics reporter.