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Georgia Runoff Election: Everything You Need to Know About the Races That Will Decide Control of the Senate

Nicole Rojas
Nov 10, 2020 - 1:09

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The fate of the U.S. Senate lies in the hands of Georgia voters. Two Senate seat races in the Peach State will head to a runoff election in January after Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler failed to reach 50 percent of voter support during the general election. 

Senate candidates in Georgia need to hit 50 percent of voter support to avoid a runoff election. Perdue faced a razor thin race against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and is heading to a runoff election after only obtaining 49.7 percent of the vote. 

In the other race, Loeffler failed to even come close to Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. The Republican senator only secured 25.9 percent of the votes to Warnock’s 32.9 percent. She was trailed closely behind by fellow Republican Doug Collins, who obtained 20 percent of the votes.    

After failing to win their races, Perdue and Loeffler called on Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to resign over “failures” in the election process. However, they did not provide any evidence to support those claims, Politico reported. 

“There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national life on the problems,” the two senators said in a joint statement. “The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responded that he would not resign and defended the state’s election process. According to Politico, Raffensperger called the election a “resounding success” from an administration perspective. He noted that results reporting was orderly and followed state law. 

Who Are The Democratic Challengers?

Democrats’ hope to win some control of the Senate now hinges on two men: Jon Ossoff and Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock. If both men win, Democrats –– along with two Independent senators –– will hold 50 seats in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris providing the tie-breaking vote.

Jon Ossoff has a tough race ahead if he wants to defeat Perdue and become one of Georgia’s newest senators. The 33-year-old Democrat trailed Perdue by 88,316 votes, according to counts by The Associated Press. Ossoff plans to make the coronavirus pandemic response a key part of his campaign message, he told CNN.

“This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about human lives and human livelihoods which are in the balance,” he said. “If we cannot mount an effective response to this pandemic, more people will needlessly…lose their homes, their jobs, and their businesses.”

Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock also has a difficult road to winning the Senate seat. Unlike Ossoff, Warnock did not come as close to the 50 percent threshold but did receive more support than his Republican opponent. Warnock will need to pull the support of voters who supported several other Democratic candidates during the election. 

The pastor, who led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, told NBC News that his ideals are driven by his faith. 

“My ideals are driven by my faith and what has caused me to fight for access to affordable health care, the dignity of work and voting rights,” the 51-year-old said. “I think your vote is your voice and your voice is human dignity. And we’ve got to make sure everyone has a voice in our democracy.”

Key Dates

November 18: Earliest day for a registrar to mail an absentee ballot for the general election runoff. 

December 7: Last day to register to vote for the January 5, 2021, runoff election. 

December 14: Early voting for runoff election.

January 5, 2021: Runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats. 

Action Steps

Learn More: Be sure to head to https://electjon.com/ and https://warnockforgeorgia.com/ to learn more about the candidates.

Register: Georgia voters can check their voter registration, register to vote or make changes to their current registration record here. Gen Z voters who will be 18 on January 5, 2021, can also register to vote. 

Volunteer and Donate: There are several amazing voting rights organizations that are doing crucial work to register voters and get them to the polls on January 5. Check out: New Georgia Project, Rideshare2Vote, The Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Fair Fight.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.

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