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Georgia’s Senate Runoff: Why is it important? How does it affect you?

By Kiya Stanford

We are all familiar with the basic governmental practice of electing a president every four years. The races in 2016 and 2020 have produced some of the highest voter turnout, media attention, and party division in modern American history. Although the November 3rd election resulted in the victory of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, it is only a fraction of what is needed to move from a republican dominated central government to one controlled by democrats. As of December 3, 2020, the House holds a democratic majority of 232-197 and the Senate holds a republican majority of 50-46 (two seats are held by independent parties that have generally voted more liberal). If the Senate were to tie at 50-50, it may set the precedence for smoother passage of laws and policies for the new Cabinet. Here is some information regarding the upcoming Senate race in Georgia.

Who Are the Candidates?

There are two runoff elections on January 5th. One is a normal bid for re-election by incumbent David Perdue (R) against hopeful Jon Ossoff (D). The second seat is a special election stemming from appointment after former senator Johnny Isakson retired last year. Kelly Loeffler (R) is the incumbent against Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).

What Exactly is a Runoff?

A runoff election occurs when an initial election cannot call a victor because no candidate surpasses the threshold necessary to win. This is oftentimes not a simple majority. In the state of Georgia neither of the incumbent senators successfully won 51% of the votes they needed in the general election. In the January 5th election, the hopefuls for each seat will only need to claim the majority of votes to claim victory rather than surpass a threshold. Candidates have an uphill battle to obtain a majority in a runoff due to the historical disproportionate voter turnout between general and runoff elections.

How Can I Vote?

There are some key dates to make note of for the upcoming election.

December 7, 2020: Last day to register to vote

December 14-31, 2020: Early voting*

January 5, 2021: Election day

Registered voters are also able to request an absentee ballot to be returned via mail, drop box, or at their polling place on election day.

*Check with the county dates in which you are registered for details.

In all, the results of the GA runoff for the seats in the U.S Senate could have lasting effects on the incoming Cabinet and American history as a whole. The impact that legislative branch plays in the governmental structure is just as if not more important than the executive branch. Although GA produced record numbers in voter turnout November 3rd, our responsibility as citizens is not over until January 5th. No matter whether you decide to utilize an absentee ballot, vote early, or vote on election day, just make sure that your voice is heard.


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