CEEP Explains: The Georgia Runoff Election

By this point, you’ve probably heard of people talking about the Georgia runoff election. What exactly is this runoff election, and why do people keep talking about it? Here, I’ll quickly break down this runoff election and explain why it’s so important. 

This past Election Day, 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate were up for grabs. This means that 35 U.S. Senators had to win support from their constituencies to continue serving in their roles as Senators. Some of these races were landslide victories. For example, Senator Mike Rounds in South Dakota received 65.7% of the vote count, while his challenger Dan Ahlers only received 34.3% of the vote count. In other states, however, Senate races were closer. In North Carolina, Senator Thom Tillis received 48.7% of the vote count, while the runner-up Cal Cunningham received 46.9% of the vote count.

In Georgia, there was a similar situation. Both Senate seats were up for grabs (reminder that each state is allocated 2 Senate seats). David Perdue, the incumbent, received 49.7% of the vote count and his challenger Jon Ossoff received 47.9% of the vote count. In the other Senate race, Kelly Loeffler, the incumbent, received 25.9% of the vote count, challenger Raphael Warnock received 32.9% of the vote count, and another challenger received 20% of the vote count. According to Georgia law, candidates must receive a majority of the vote to win an election, and if no one does so, the top two finishers advance to a runoff. In both of these races, no candidate received more than a majority. What does this mean? A runoff election. 

Both of these Senate races will be decided in a runoff election on January 5th. Georgia voters will need to vote again. This provides an opportunity for those who did not vote in the general election on November 3rd to have their voice heard now. If you are a resident of Georgia, you have until December 7th to register to vote if you have not already. Early voting for this runoff election begins on December 14th, and you can request an absentee ballot now if you do not want to vote in-person. For students who are on campus in Georgia but may live in another state, you are allowed to vote in Georgia. You can register in the state using your Georgia address. Make sure that you do so by December 7th. 

To learn more about the candidates facing off in these races, check out our Georgia runoff candidate guides. They are also available in Spanish. 

Now that we know the logistics, there is one final question that needs to be answered. Why do people care about these two races? The answer is simple. These races have the potential to change which party controls the Senate. If both races are won by Democrats, Democrats would take control of the Senate. However, if only one race is won by a Republican, then Republicans would keep its majority control in the Senate. 

Get out there and vote Georgians! 

Special thanks to the Associated Press for the data used in this blog post.

—Rachael Houston
Faculty Resources Coordinator


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