Everything You Need to Know about the Georgia Senate Runoff Election
Georgia voters should participate in the upcoming Senate runoff election in January 2021 because the fate of the entire world is at stake. (OK, that’s overly dramatic, but it certainly feels that way at times).
Be sure to register ASAP and vote by January 5, 2021.
How do I vote in the runoff?
Well, first — you have to be a citizen of the state of Georgia. (People like Andrew Yang are relocating to the Peach State to help out with the election efforts. But only full-time Georgia residents can vote in the election.)
Georgia voters can request an absentee ballot now. Remember that you don’t need a specific reason to vote absentee. But more importantly, don’t try to vote by mail AND in person — that’s a felony. The state will begin mailing out these mail-in ballots starting on November 18.
Be sure to register to vote by Monday, December 7, 2020, or you won’t be able to participate in this election. If you already voted in the general election earlier in November, you’re already registered to vote. You don’t have to register again.
Early voting for the runoff will start on Monday, December 14, 2020. And the official election day for this race is Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
If you remember, the United States had a general election on November 3, 2020. This saw historic turnouts, with over 142 million Americans participating. This equates to about 61% of eligible voters, which is a big deal.
Besides the Presidential election, both of Georgia’s federal senate seats were being contested. And neither one saw a candidate get at least 50% of the votes.
That means we try again with a run-off in which only the top-two vote-getters participate.
That means that incumbent Republican David Perdue will take on Democrat Jon Ossoff, and incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler will face off with Raphael Warnock for their place in the U.S. senate.
Who is running?
- Elected to the Senate during the 2014 election, replacing retiring senator Saxby Chambliss.
- Formerly served as the CEO of Reebok, Dollar General, and Pillowtex.
- Holds a Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a Master’s in operations research from Georgia Tech. Enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy, but did not finish.
- Georgia native — born in Macon, GA and raised in Warner Robins, GA.
- First cousin to Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue.
- Previously faced off in a runoff for Georgia’s House of Representatives. Earned 48% of the vote in the general election, before losing to Karen Handel in the runoff. This was the most expensive race in U.S. House history — raising more than $50 million dollars total.
- Currently runs a small business that exposes corruption, organized crime, and war crimes for news organizations worldwide
- Worked as a national security aide for Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson.
- Holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.
- Georgia native — born in Atlanta.
- Since 2005, has pastored Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — the same church pastored by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Endorsed by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter, and Stacy Abrams.
- Graduated from the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program, the Harvard University Summer Leadership Institute, and Leadership Atlanta.
- Received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and an M.Div., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
- Has focused on his childhood growing up in the projects in poverty and how he wants to help families currently in similar situations.
- Assumed office in January 2020 after being appointed by Georgia governor Brian Kemp to fill the open seat left by Johnny Isakson’s retirement.
- A former business woman and the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA team.
- Has come under scrutiny for allegedly selling millions of dollars in stocks prior to wider public awareness of the COVID-19 outbreak back in January 2020.
- Has been a vocal supporter of President Trump and his policies.
- Earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.B.A. from DePaul University in Chicago.
Why is this important?
This election is extremely relevant because the (projected) results of the 2020 election show the Democratic and Republican parties in a near deadlock for control of the U.S. Senate.
Out of 100 seats, exactly half are held by Republicans, and 48 have been taken by Democrats. The remaining two are currently up in the air in Georgia.
If the two Republican candidates win in Georgia, their party will retain control of the Senate. If the Democratic candidates win, the Senate will be evenly divided down the middle—with the Vice President acting as the tie-breaker.
A split in the runoffs between the parties would give Republicans a narrow, one-seat majority in the legislature.
What does this mean?
For this reason, the eyes of the nation (and the world) will be watching how Georgia votes in this run-off race. There’s already been plenty of national media coverage, and that only looks to increase in the coming weeks and months.
There will also be an influx of donations to the four candidates in an effort to sway the election. Georgia voters can expect to be inundated with a flood of advertisements for all of the candidates. Even more so than we already received during the last few months.
What is a runoff and why do we have them?
Most states don’t have runoffs — only about 12 do to some degree, including Georgia. It means that a candidate must get a majority (50% or more) of the popular vote in order to actually win office. In most other elections, the candidate with the most votes wins straight out.
The reason why Georgia has runoff races is far too complicated to dive into in this article, so here’s a link to a video that does a better job explaining it than I ever could.
What should I do now?
- Register to vote (if you haven’t already).
- Inform yourself about the candidates you want to support.
- Sign up for an absentee ballot or go vote early.
- Encourage other people in Georgia to vote, too.
- Have civil and well-informed conversations about politics.