FILE - Gabriel Sterling (AP)

Georgia's Voting System Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling

(The Center Square) – The Georgia secretary of state's office asked voters Monday to ignore the flood of misinformation and threats meant to decrease turnout and vote Tuesday in the state's runoff elections.

About 3 million early and mailed absentee ballots already have been cast for Tuesday's runoff elections for two U.S. senators and a member of the Public Service Commission.

The two U.S. Senate runoffs between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock will determine the balance of power in Congress.

Elections officials said Monday they do not want unfounded claims of voter fraud to affect voter turnout Tuesday.

"The secretary wants me to make clear that everybody's vote is going to count, everybody's vote did count," said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager. "If you care about the values and direction of the nation you want to see, it's your obligation to turn out and vote tomorrow."

There are 7.2 million registered voters in Georgia, according to election files. About 4.9 million voters cast ballots in the U.S. Senate races and 4.8 million voted in the Public Service Commission election for District 4, which also is on the ballot Tuesday.

Sterling spent more than 20 minutes at a news briefing Monday disputing claims of ballot harvesting, hacking, data changes, illegal voting and cheating. New questions about the state's elections have been raised after the secretary of state's office released a recording of President Donald Trump asking Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" the votes to narrow the margin between him and President-elect Joe Biden. Biden defeated Trump by nearly 12,000 votes in Georgia.

Several lawmakers and at least two local election officials have called for an investigation into Trump's request, claiming it is illegal. Sterling said he was not aware of any discussion about opening an investigation into the conversation, which happened Saturday. Sterling did confirm, however, law enforcement officials are investigating a number of threats on the election.

"We anticipate there could be any number of potential threats out there that can be attempting to encourage or discourage turnout," Sterling said. "We encourage everybody to please turnout and be safe, be smart, and don't let anybody get in the way of you casting your vote."

Sterling refused to discuss the nature of the threats or confirm if law enforcement officials will be increasing security measures at the polls.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.