Senate Runoff: Early Voting Underway in Georgia, Here’s What You Need to Know

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Early voting for the January 5 Senate runoff has officially begun in Georgia. Voters in the Peach State, who have through Dec. 31 to cast their ballots during the early voting period, will decide which political party has control of the Senate during the upcoming Biden administration.

Voters returned to the polls across Georgia on Dec. 14 to cast their ballots in the highly contested pair of Senate runoff elections. The runoff sees Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler fight to keep their seats against Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

If Ossoff and Warnock manage to win their races, Democrats will gain control of the Senate at 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote once she is inaugurated. Republicans currently hold 50 seats in the Senate and need just one more to cinch their control of the upper chamber.

There were some reports of long lines and concerns about the early-voting infrastructure, The Washington Post reported.

Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Fair Fight Action, told the newspaper that he hoped Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) had “learned his lesson” about providing “the necessary eNet bandwidth to accommodate voters.” Bringman added that he hoped Raffensperger would encourage two counties to reopen “early voting locations in areas where a disproportionate number of voters of color reside.”

Cobb County, the third-most populous county in the state, was already pressured to reopen early voting locations after reducing those sites from 11 to five. On Dec. 9, the county said it would open an additional two sites during the third week of early voting, CNN reported.

The Democratic Party has pushed hard to get Ossoff and Warnock elected. The two have joined forces and campaigned together. President-elect Joe Biden was scheduled to visit the state on Dec. 15 to encourage voters to get out and vote for the two candidates during early voting.

Warnock, who is looking to unseat Loeffler, cast his ballot for the runoff on the first day of early in-person voting.

“Only in America is my story even possible. So, I’m grateful for this moment, grateful for my father of blessed memory, and I’m grateful for my mother, who grew up in Waycross, Georgia, making tobacco and cotton during the summers. And today, she gets to help pick her son to be one of the next two United States Senators from the great state of Georgia,” Warnock said in a statement. “So, I just want to encourage everyone to exercise their conscience and make their way to the polls. It’s a beautiful day to vote.”

What To Know

There are a few things voters should know before they go to the polls to cast their ballots. Voters should check to see if they are registered to vote prior to heading to vote. If they were registered to vote for the general election, there was no need to re-register. The last day to register to vote was on Dec. 7.

According to the state’s voting website, voters do not have to vote at an assigned polling location during early voting. Voters can vote at any early voting location within their county. Those in Fulton County will have the chance to vote at two amazing sports locations. The Atlanta Hawks teamed up with the Atlanta Falcons to provide an early voting site for voters.

The Atlanta Hawks’ arena will be open from Dec. 14-19 for early voting, while the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next door will take over from Dec. 22-30 (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), according to USA Today.

The two teams opened their doors to early voting during the general election, which contributed to a sizable boost in voter turnout.

“We are proud of the experience that we’ve been able to offer Fulton County voters in these important elections,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in a release cited by USA Today. “Voting is an important civic duty and as a business that represents this city, it has been a pleasure to give back in such an incredibly meaningful way.”

Voters will need to bring a valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport or voter identification card, to cast their ballot. Those who cannot vote in person can also request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. Requests for mail-in ballots have surpassed 1 million, with 200,000 already returned, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Important Dates

December 14-31: Early voting period for runoff election.

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

Action Steps

Vote: Early voting is open across the state. Check where your polling station is here. Voters have through Dec. 31 to cast their early ballots. If they miss early voting, they can head to the polls on Election Day, which is on January 5, 2021.

Learn More: Head to Elect Jon and Warnock For Georgia to learn more about Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Volunteer and Donate: Several amazing voting rights organizations are doing critical work to get voters to the polls on January 5. Check out the volunteering and donation opportunities for 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.