- Georgia voters will decide control of the US Senate in two Senate runoff elections set to take place on January 5, 2021.
- The deadline to register to vote for the runoffs is Monday, December 7.
- In one race, first-term Republican David Perdue is facing Democrat Jon Ossoff.
- In the other, a special election, appointed Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock.
- Georgians have the option to vote by mail, early in-person, or on Election Day itself.
- Voters can request mail ballots now.
- The state will also hold 16 days of in-person early voting beginning on Monday, December 14.
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On January 5, 2021 Georgia will determine which party controls the US Senate with two runoff elections.
If no candidate in an election earns over 50% of the vote in Georgia, state law dictates that the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff election. Georgia is one of a dozen states, most of which are in the South, that use runoff elections. In addition to the Senate races, a runoff for a Georgia Public Service Commissioner election will also take place on January 5.
In the state's regularly-scheduled US Senate election, first-term Republican David Perdue will go to a runoff against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, a 33-year-old former investigative journalist and US House staffer who ran in the high-profile 2017 special election for the US House in Georgia.
There's also a special US Senate election taking place to determine who will fill the seat held by former Sen. Johnny Isakson, who resigned in late 2019 over health concerns, and serve out the rest of his term until 2022.
Republican Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy businesswoman and WNBA team owner, was appointed to the seat after Isakson's resignation. After competing in a jungle special election with 20 other candidates, on November 3 she competed in a runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock, a senior pastor at the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Democrats will need to win both races in order to get to 50 seats in the Senate, which would allow Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to serve as the tie-breaking vote and give Democrats a narrow majority in the chamber.
Georgia voters made history this November in voting to hand the state's 16 Electoral College votes to President-elect Joe Biden, making him the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state since former President Bill Clinton in 1992.
The former Republican bastion will now be the site of millions of dollars in outside spending and get-out-the-vote efforts. Here's how to vote in the runoff elections:
When is the deadline to register to vote in Georgia?
The deadline to register to vote for the runoffs is on Monday, December 7.
Importantly, 17-year-old Georgians who will turn 18 by January 5 can register and vote too.
Georgia voters have the option to register to vote through the state's online portal, by mail with a paper application, or when applying for or renewing a driver's license at the DMV. You must be a US citizen and 18 years of age on Election Day to vote.
When is the deadline to vote by mail?
Any registered voter in Georgia can vote from home with a mail ballot without an excuse. Especially with COVID-19 cases steadily rising in Georgia and nationwide as winter approaches, voting by mail is a safe and convenient way to cast a ballot.
You can request your mail ballot now, either through the state's relatively new online request portal or with a paper application mailed to your local elections office.
Over one million voters, many of whom are disabled, in the military and overseas, or voters aged 65 and above on the absentee rollover list, are already set to receive mail ballots for the January runoffs.
If you plan to vote by mail, you should request your ballot now, or as soon as possible, and return it with plenty of time before Election Day. Election officials began sending out mail ballots to those who requested them starting on Wednesday, November 18.
Domestic voters' mail ballots must be returned either by mail via the US Postal Service or dropped off in-person (in-person ballot return options vary by county) by the time the polls close on Election Day itself. Military and overseas ballots can be received up to three days after Election Day.
For the 2020 presidential election, the Postal Service recommended that voters request their mail ballots no later than 15 days before Election Day and mail their ballots back at least seven days out from the deadline. First-class mail takes two to five days to deliver each way.
Sending in your ballot as early as possible, however, will best ensure that your vote is properly received on time and counted.
When does early voting begin?
Georgia holds several days of early voting prior to every election. In-person early voting for the January 5 Georgia runoffs will begin on Monday, December 14, according to the Secretary of State's office.
The specific locations and hours for in-person early voting in every county will be available to find at this link. Most counties have already now their early voting times and locations. It looks like early voting will not take place on Christmas Eve (December 24), Christmas Day (December 25), or New Year's Day (January 1).
When is Election Day in the Georgia runoffs?
The last day to vote in the Georgia Senate runoffs, Election Day, is on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. In-person voting locations and polling sites on Election Day open at 7:00 a.m. ET and close at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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