What is a runoff election, and how will it work in Georgia’s Senate race?

washington – while the Democrats have won control of the senate With wins in Arizona and Nevada, the party could end the 2022 midterm elections with an expanded majority if it succeeds. Georgiawhere Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will face each other in a head-to-head matchup known as a runoff election.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed on November 9 that the Senate race would proceed to a runoff on December 6 after no candidate on the ballot passed the 50% threshold needed to declare victory. Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver won 2.1%, denying both Warnock and Walker a majority and triggering a second election to determine the winner.

This is the second time in less than two years that Georgia voters have ended with a runoff election date. In the 2020 election, both Senate seats were at stake and both races were headed for a runoff. Warnock and Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff ultimately defeated Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively, in a January 5, 2021 contest. The sweep by the two Democrats solidified the party’s control of the Senate.

With Georgia back in the spotlight and midterm election season effectively extended for a few more weeks, here’s a look at the history of the state’s runoff system, how the upcoming election will work and what’s at stake.

History of Georgia’s runoff election system

Today, Georgia is one of only two states—Louisiana is the other—that require runoff elections when no candidate receives a majority. In the Peach State, the top two vote-getters advance to the second election. The other 48 states have plurality, or winner-take-all, voting, in which a candidate can win with less than 50% of the vote.

This election system dates back to the Jim Crow-era and was approved by the Georgia legislature in the 1960s. While legislation was introduced in the 1980s to repeal the majority-vote requirement and adopt a plurality system instead, those efforts were unsuccessful.

In 1990, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s voting requirement, the first statewide challenge to the majority-vote system brought by the US under the Voting Rights Act. John Dunn, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the practice “has a markedly chilling effect on the ability of blacks to become candidates for public office.”

Critics of the process argued that black candidates who won a plurality of the vote against several white candidates often lost in the runoff, as white voters would rally their support behind the remaining white candidate. Dunn noted that according to a New York Times story at the time, 35 black candidates had lost in recent county elections when they reached the runoff stage.

The Times noted that one of the leading proponents of the 1964 law that established the system, State Representative Denmark Grover, said it was intended to “prevent the Negro bloc vote from controlling elections”.

The Justice Department unsuccessfully argued in its lawsuit that the provision was unlawfully adopted and maintained “for racially discriminatory purposes”, saying it prevented black citizens from participating in the political process and electing their chosen candidates. deprives of equal opportunity.

At the time, Georgia was one of nine Southern states, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, that required a majority-vote vote to win election to public office. And today, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, primary runoffs are still common in the South, where 10 states require a candidate to win a majority of the vote to win their primary.

How Does Georgia Runoff Work?

Under Georgia law, the two candidates with the most votes advance to the runoff election. Warnock only led Walker by 38,320 votes, taking a high 99% of the vote, but falling short of the 50% needed to win outright.

If a candidate who is eligible to advance withdraws, dies or is found to be ineligible, the next closest vote-getter will go into the runoff.

Last year, the Georgia legislature passed a voting law that, among other changes, reduced the gap between the general election and the runoff from nine weeks to 28 days.

The 98-page bill stated, “Nine weeks of runoff in 2020 was over for candidates, donors and voters.”

This year, the runoff election will be held on December 6. The deadline to register to vote in the runoff was November 7, the Monday before the midterm elections, so registered voters would not have been able to vote since then. runoff.

Early voting in the runoff is already underway, and voters have turned out in large numbers: On Monday, November 28, Georgia voters broke the state’s early voting record, with more than 301,000 turning out, according to Georgia State. Cast your vote in person. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The previous record of over 233,000 votes was set on the last day of preliminary voting in the 2018 general election.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, more than 503,000 ballots have already been cast through absentee and early voting.


In the 2021 runoff, Warnock and Ossoff became the first Democrats elected to the Senate in Georgia since 2000, and their twin victories also gave Democrats their slim Senate majority. Ossoff was elected to a six-year term running through 2026. Warnock won the special election to serve out the remaining two years of GOP Sen. Johnny Isaacson’s term, who resigned. Warnock is now running for his first full term.

The party split in the upper chamber — Democrats and Republicans each control 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote — was crucial for President Biden, as he was able to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and a Leading climate, health care and tax planning Only with Democratic support.

In this election cycle, Democrats struggled to hold onto the Senate, and result of The Georgia race could increase the number of seats the party controls from 50 to 51. cbs news Estimate That Democrats would retain a Senate majority with victories over their Republican challengers by incumbent Sens. Mark Kelly in Arizona and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

he has two years left in his first term and Republicans are gaining control of the HouseA Democratic-controlled Senate is vital for Mr. Biden to advance his agenda, especially when it comes to judicial nominations.

The president has pledged to work across the aisle regardless of the final tally.

“I stand ready to work with my Republican colleagues,” he told reporters. “The American people have made it clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be willing to work with me as well.”

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