Published: 13:30 GMT, 5 January 2021 | Updated: 17:46 GMT, 5 January 2021
All eyes are turning to Georgia on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands head to the polls to cast their ballots in the two consequential runoff races that will decide Senate control – after a record-shattering 3 million voted early.
Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are vying to keep their Senate seats against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
Voters began lining up in the Peach State at the crack of dawn Tuesday and voting ends at 7:00 p.m. – setting up Washington for a day of speculation and nail biting as the two races will not only determine which party controls the Senate, but also the trajectory of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Similar issues that delayed results of the presidential election in Georgia could unfold after Tuesday’s runoff contests if the race turnouts are as close as they are expected to be.
Mail-in ballots will continue filtering in throughout the day Tuesday and with that on top of calculating in-person voters, election officials might not know the results for a few more days.
If either Loeffler or Perdue hold onto their seat, Republican will maintain a majority in the upper chamber and more than likely block all legislative actions pushed by Biden.
But if both Warnock and Ossoff emerge victorious after Tuesday’s election, Democrats will have successfully split the Senate 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.
‘Georgia, get out and VOTE for two great Senators, @KLoeffler and @sendavidperdue. So important to do so!’ President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
Voters in Georgia started lining up and casting their ballots Tuesday morning in the two runoff elections in the state, which will determine what party controls the Senate
Georgians started lining up at the crack of dawn to vote – before polling places even opened
Hundreds of thousands of Georgians are expected to vote on Tuesday before the polls close at 7:00 p.m. – after a record-shattering 3 million already voted in the runoff elections early by mail or in-person
Republicans expect to win both Senate races and are relying on earning at least 62 per cent of Election Day turnout
Masked-up and Socially Distanced: Georgia voters stood feet away from each other and donned face masks as they waited outside to be let into their respective polling places to vote
Trump pleaded with Georgians to vote for Loeffler and Perdue in a tweet Tuesday morning: ‘So important to do so!’ he urged
Volunteers at a voting center in Austell, Georgia hand out food and drinks to voters lined up waiting to cast their ballots
The southern state swung blue for Joe Biden by less than 12,000 votes on November 3, neither Senate race was decided because no candidate earned the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff
A sign outside a voting center reminds candidates and their surrogates, as well as anyone else, that campaigning at a polling place is prohibited by law
Similar issues that delayed results of the presidential election in Georgia could unfold after Tuesday’s runoff contests if the races are close.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, said: ‘We may be looking at several days.’ He claimed the delay would mostly likely come from mail ballots received on Tuesday.
Election officials are not able to start counting ballots until 7 p.m. on Tuesday – after the polling places close.
While the more than 3 million ballots cast in early voting will be processed by then, hundreds of thousands of votes will be flooding in throughout the day Tuesday. The ballots already being processed will likely be counted quickly Tuesday when the polls close, but the others could take some time.
Election officials will need to open envelopes, check signatures and load ballots into counting machines for all votes received by mail on Election Day – and they will need to process the hundreds of thousands of votes cast in person that day, too.
Slow counting held up the results of the presidential election results in Georgia, with President Donald Trump holding a solid lead before mail-in ballots received on November 3 were fully processed and counted.
The tiny margin of victory led to two separate recounts in the Peach State, further delaying the final results.
The election Tuesday will decide control of the Senate as incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue face off against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
The runoffs were triggered after none of the four candidates were able to reach the 50 per cent threshold needed in Georgia to outright win their Senate race on November 3. The state does not hold primary elections, but rather has all candidates on the primary ballot with a requirement that they earn at least half the vote to win.
Trump and President-elect Joe Biden held dueling events in Georgia Monday to try and use their coattails to increase enthusiasm for their respective parties’ candidates.
Before Monday, more than 3 million Georgians already voted early in the Senate races – whether by mail or in person. This early voting figure far surpasses the previous record of 2.137 million votes cast overall in a runoff election before this year.
With around 5.5 million registered voters in Georgia, more than half of those who can vote have already done so before runoff election day on Tuesday.
Data from Georgia Secretary of State’s office indicates much more people showed up to vote early in person rather than absentee by mail – even in the midst of the pandemic.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the highest ranking Georgia election official, said: ‘We may be looking at several days’ before results are known.
Election officials are not able to start counting ballots until 7 p.m. on Tuesday – after the polling places close.
Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots will continue flooding in throughout the day Tuesday, and that, combined with tabulating in-person voting could delay the counting process.
Slow counting held up the results of the presidential election results in Georgia, with Trump holding a solid lead before mail-in ballots received on November 3 were fully processed and counted in the days after.
Joe Biden won by less than 12,000 votes in the days after Election Day – and the minuscule margin of victory led to two separate recounts in the Peach State, further delaying the final results.
Historically, Democrats do better in mail-in and early voting and Republicans perform better on Election Day. But in a year plagued with coronavirus restrictions and accommodations, it’s hard to say if that rule will still apply here.
So far, lines have not been as bad as expected – a bad sign for Republicans.
‘I am hearing of virtually no lines across the state,’Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Tuesday.
Former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted Tuesday that voters are getting in and out of polling places in minutes thanks to early voting.
‘MSNBC is reporting that voters at many Atlanta Metro polling places are in and out in 5 minutes today because so many Georgians voted early!’ Abrams posted. ‘So if you haven’t voted, get out and vote by 7PM today. I’m counting on you.’
This is nothing compared to the very long lines seen for in-person early voting in Georgia this year – or those lines experienced in the pre-pandemic era in the 2018 runoff.
As it stands, Republicans expect to win both races – even though a Sunday poll shows Warnock and Ossoff ahead in their races by less than 2 per cent with Perdue standing a slightly better chance than colleague Loeffler.
The GOP is relying on earning at least 62 per cent of Election Day turnout, which is what Perdue got in November.
Trump, while pushing for Loeffler and Perdue’s reelections, also used his Monday night rally in Dalton County, Georgia to complain of his claimed widespread voter fraud and push his repeated – and largely unproven – allegations that the presidency was ‘stolen’ by Democrats.
President Donald Trump held a rally Monday night in Dalton County, Georgia for Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler (pictured) and David Perdue
Perdue joined the rally remotely to address the crowd at one point. He is still quarantining at his home after contracting coroanvirus
Earlier in the day, President-elect Joe Biden held an event campaigning for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff (left) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (center)
Loeffler told Fox News on Monday night that she would join a dozen other Republican senators in a plot to challenge at least one state’s Electoral College results when Congress moves to certify the election for Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Trump announced on his Twitter Tuesday morning that Perdue was also joining the effort to challenge the results.
‘Pleased to announce that @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue have just joined our great #StopTheSteal group of Senators,’ the president posted. ‘They will fight the ridiculous Electoral College Certification of Biden. How do you certify numbers that have now proven to be wrong and, in many cases, fraudulent!’
A group of House Republicans, led by Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, started pushing the plan last month and have gained a lot of traction since then after the group of senators joined the effort.
Loeffler attended the rally Monday night, but Perdue is still quarantining after contracting COVID-19. He joined the rally by video for a short time to address the crowd gathered on the tarmac for one of Trump’s last rallies of his presidency.
Trump lauded Loeffler and Perdue on Tuesday for joining a GOP effort in the Senate to challenge the Electoral College results in the joint session certifying the election for Joe Biden on January 6
During the rally, Trump demanded that Vice President Mike Pence ‘come through’ as he presides over Congress certifying the election on January 6 and Republicans carry out their plan to challenge the results.
‘I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy,’ Trump told an audience Monday night. ‘Of course if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much.’
While the president’s biggest Capitol Hill allies challenge some of the states’ Electoral College counts, which could elongate the Congressional session for hours or even days, Pence will arrive just to announce the results.
Even though there is little to nothing Pence can do to change the outcome, Trump is suggesting he has the power to do so.
Thousands of the president’s most staunch supporters are descending on Washington D.C. on Wednesday to protest the election results, demanding Democrats ‘stop the steal’ and Trump be declared the true winner.
The GOP has been tearing itself apart from the inside out in the midst of the Georgia runoff as Republicans pick sides on standing with the president on his claims of widespread voter fraud or not.
In a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, Trump pressured him to find 11,780 votes for him in the Peach State to overturn Biden’s win there.
Audio of the call was leaked – by Raffensperger himself – on Sunday, and revealed a desperate Trump who, at times, begged, flattered and threatened the Georgia official, who is a Republican.
Trump has also attacked Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp for not doing enough to try and overturn the results after the state went blue in the presidential elections.
Loeffler and Perdue, however, have stayed on the president’s side – not wanting to upset him and his supporters before their runoff elections.
Republican Kelly Loeffler, 50, was never elected to her position in the U.S. Senate to represent Georgia. She was appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in December 2019 after then-Senator Johnny Isakson announced he was resigning for health reasons. Loeffler took office in January 2020 despite President Donald Trump pushing Kemp to appoint former Representative Doug Collins to the post.
Loeffler considers herself the most conservative Republican in the Senate and has aligned herself fully with President Donald Trump – touting her ‘100 per cent Trump voting record’ while campaigning.
Before ascending to Congress, Loeffler served as CEO of Bakkt, a digital asset conversion company, a subsidiary of her husband Jeffrey Sprecher’s financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange. She also co-owns WNBA team the Atlanta Dream.
Loeffler got into some trouble this year after allegations emerged that she used information she was privy to as a senator to benefit her and her husband’s business and financial interests. She sold off and rearranged some stocks following a briefing related to the coroanvirus threat, which was not yet public.
Loeffler and Sprecher, 65, were married in 2004 and have no children. Their net worth is $800 million, making Loeffler the richest member of Congress, by far. The two reside in Tuxedo Park – a neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia – in a $10.5 million estate.
Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock, 51, is looking to take Senator Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seat in his first run for public office. The reverend rose to prominence in Georgia politics in 2014 when he emerged a leader in the effort to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Warnock chaired the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan organization focused on voter registration, from June 2017 to January 2020. He has also served as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 2005 – the same church where Marin Luther King Jr. preached alongside his father from 1959 until his death in 1968.
In 2013, Warnock delivered the benediction at the public prayer service for Barack Obama’s second inauguration. As Warnock geared up for his 2020 Senate run, he hosted in March 2019 an interfaith meeting on climate change at his church, featuring Al Gore.
The reverend grew up in public housing in Savannah, Georgia as the eleventh of twelve children of two Pentecostal pastors.
From 2016 to 2020, Warnock was married to Oulèye Ndoye, with whom he shares two children. His now-ex-wife accused Warnock of running over her foot with a car while trying to get out of an argument. Body camera footage of Warnock’s interview with police during the incident was made public before the runoff election.
David Perdue, 71, first became a U.S. senator for Georgia in 2015, replacing retiring Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. This year is his first reelection campaign, and he didn’t earn the 50 per cent needed to avoid a runoff. Perdue is a cousin of President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Before seeking public office, Perdue served as senior vice president for Reebok and later joined PillowTex, a North Carolina textile company. Following that, he was CEO of Dollar General. In the list of most rich members of Congress, Perdue falls at No. 21 with a net worth of 15.8 million.
Perdue, like his Georgia colleague Kelly Loeffler, was linked to a congressional insider trading scandal in 2020 for selling stocks before the market crashed in a fallout from the coroanvirus pandemic. They both allegedly used knowledge from a closed Senate meeting to make stock decision.
Perdue resides in Sea Island, Georgia with his wife Bonnie Dunn, who he married in 1972. The couple has two sons and three grandchildren. They had a daughter who died in infancy.
Thomas Jonathan Ossoff, who goes by Jon, is, by far, the youngest candidate in Georgia’s runoff elections at just 33. To become a U.S senator, candidates must be 30 on the day of swearing in.
In 2017, Ossoff launch a bid to become a representative in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The district was long considered a Republican stronghold, but Ossoff came in first – without earning the 50 per cent to win. He ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel in a runoff.
He interned for Representative John Lewis before spending five years as a national security staffer to Representative Hank Johnson – leaving in 2012 to earn a master’s degree at the London School of Economics.
Since 2013, Ossoff has served as managing director and CEO of Insight TWI, a London-based investigative television production company creating documentaries on corruption in foreign countries.
Ossoff, who was raised Jewish, is married to Alisha Kramer, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Emory University.
The Democratic candidates prides himself on being a child of an immigrant – his mother, Heather Fenton, is Australian – and his multimillionaire father Richard Ossoff owns a specialist publishing company.
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News – Georgia votes: Thousands go to the polls to decide control of Senate