As Democrats prepare to hold the House and take back the White House in January, there’s still one looming question: Will Democrats take control of the Senate? The future of the Senate, and the advancement of a pro-democracy agenda, hinges on two January Senate runoff elections in Georgia.
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the upcoming Georgia runoffs.
What is a runoff election?
According to Georgia law, if no candidate receives a majority of votes in an election, a second election — or a runoff — is required. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes in the runoff is then declared the winner. In November, Georgia held two Senate elections.
The first was a special election to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) seat, who retired due to health issues. On Nov. 3, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) (who was appointed to temporarily fill the seat) and Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock, among other candidates, faced off in the special election. The results: Warnock came in first, gaining 32.9% of the vote, and Loeffler came in second with 25.9%. With no single candidate receiving 50% of the vote, Warnock and Loeffler will be on the ballot again in January.
The second Senate contest in Georgia was more traditional. Sen. David Perdue (R) ran for reelection against Democrat Jon Ossoff. In November, Perdue received only 49.7% of the vote, triggering a runoff.
When are the Georgia runoffs?
The Georgia runoff elections will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. If you can, vote early. Early voting begins on Dec. 14. Due to COVID-19, any registered voter in Georgia can request an absentee ballot. Your absentee ballot must be received by your county election office by Jan. 5. Keep in mind that your post office may be experiencing delays because of the holiday season. Our recommendation: turn your ballot in as soon as possible.
Make sure you check your voter registration and request an absentee ballot for the runoffs, even if you voted by mail in November. The deadline to register to vote for the runoffs is Monday, Dec. 7.
Who can vote in the Georgia runoffs?
If you voted in November, your work is not done! Make sure to check your voter registration and request an absentee ballot for the runoffs. If you didn’t vote in November, now is your chance to make your voice heard, especially if you turned 18 after Nov. 3. There are an estimated 23,000 17-year-olds in Georgia who will turn 18 by Jan. 5. If that’s you, make sure you register by Dec. 7 and make your plan to vote.
How can I vote in the Georgia runoffs?
You can cast your ballot for the runoffs in a few different ways. Due to COVID-19, any registered voter can vote with an absentee ballot. Counties began sending out absentee ballots on Nov. 18. If you still haven’t received your absentee ballot, contact your county election office as soon as possible. Once you do receive your absentee ballot, you can mail the ballot in or drop it off at a designated ballot drop box location.
You can also vote in person, but we suggest voting early to avoid long lines. Georgia will open early in-person voting for the runoff on Dec. 14. Make sure to check the location and hours of your polling place before you go vote.
How do I check that my absentee ballot was counted?
You can check the status of your absentee ballot using Georgia’s ballot tracker website. The website allows you to check if your ballot was received and whether or not your ballot was counted.
What do I do if my mail-in ballot is rejected?
If your ballot is rejected, you must correct, or “cure,” your ballot to ensure it counts. Contact your local elections office to submit the necessary documents to cure and have your ballot counted.
I don’t live in Georgia but want to help Democrats take back the Senate. What can I do?
The Georgia runoffs will not only determine who represents the state, but could reshape our country’s future: a Democratic Senate majority is key to advancing a progressive agenda for the next two years. If you don’t live in Georgia, there is still a lot you can do to support the fight. You can donate to both Senate candidates, phone bank for the party or support the many grassroots organizations that helped turn Georgia blue in November.