When will we know the results of the Georgia Senate runoff election?

The race will decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 06 January 2021 06:47
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Control of the Senate will be decided by two runoff elections in Georgia with Democrats needing to win both races to control the upper house of Congress while Republicans need to win just one.

Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing off against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock after none of the candidates secured a 50 per cent majority during the 3 November election.

When is the Georgia runoff?

The Deadline to register to vote was Monday 28 December with the election scheduled to take place on 5 January 2021.

Read more: Follow latest news from Georgia Senate runoff election

Georgia began distributing absentee ballots in November and early in-person voting was scheduled to begin on 14 December.

When do the polls close?

While polling locations are open from 7am to 7pm EST, if voters are in line before the 7pm closure they will be allowed to cast their ballot.  

What is a runoff election?

State election officials declare a runoff election when no candidate in a given contest earns enough votes to clear the state-mandated percentage share of the vote to be victorious.

In most cases, the two candidates who earned the largest share of votes advance to a head-to-head runoff so that one is guaranteed to earn at least 50 per cent plus one vote. Because the US Constitution leaves it up to individual states how to run their elections, they have varying thresholds to declare an outright winner.

When can we expect Georgia runoff election results?

Like most things during the pandemic year, that all depends. In a regular year, election results are known on the night of the election.

During the regular election in November, the results were not known for three days given how close the ballot counts were.

It’s possible, but not likely, that results could appear late Tuesday night. Election officials should be able to tabulate the more than 3 million early votes cast before election day, thanks to a new rule that allows workers to begin the process of counting early votes before the polls closed.

Read more: Who is Kelly Loeffler?

But with a high volume of absentee ballots also to be counted, and increased scrutiny on the processes in Georgia, final tallies may not be released until Wednesday.

Why are the results important?

The two runoff elections are a crucial battle for control of the Senate, determining which party holds power.

With Joe Biden winning the White House, Republicans need to control the Senate to avoid full Democrat control of both the executive and the legislative branches of government.

The Democrats need to win both Georgia seats to equal Republicans in the Senate and give vice president-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

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