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NBC News said both Georgia Senate runoffs were too short to call Tuesday night as Republicans and Democrats vie for control of the chamber.
The races will determine which party will have the Senate majority for the next two years. Democrats want unified control of Congress and the White House. Republicans want a review of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.
The 71-year-old Republican David Perdue competes against the 33-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff, who runs a documentary film production company. Perdue is aiming for a second term in the Senate after his first Sunday.
In the other special elections, 50-year-old Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is running against 51-year-old Democrat Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. The seat, which opened after the early resignation of former GOP Senator Johnny Isakson, will be re-elected in 2022.
Both elections went to the runoff after no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the general election.
Counties have started reporting results, with reports from some smaller counties already complete. Cobb County, in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, announced that the counting of results will not be complete tonight and that the vote count will resume at 1:00 p.m. CET on Wednesday.
A sign is seen as voters line up for the U.S. Senate runoff election at a polling station in Marietta, Georgia, United States, Jan. 5, 2021.
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Biden won Georgia with 11,779 votes in November. NBC News announced his victory over President Donald Trump in Peach State only three days after election day when officials were putting together postal ballot papers.
More than 3 million Georgians cast their votes before Tuesday, representing a historically high turnout for runoff elections in the state. Runoff ballot data and voter history data suggest Democrats had an advantage in voter turnout. Republicans were hoping for a strong performance on Tuesday.
According to the Georgian Foreign Minister, the average waiting time at polling stations until Tuesday was around a minute across the country. Republican election chief Gabriel Sterling said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that election day turnout could range between 600,000 and 1.1 million voters. Exact numbers are difficult to predict before the ballots are counted.
Some districts closed later than 7 p.m. ET due to delays earlier in the day. The latest was a polling station in Lowndes County that closed at 8:00 p.m. ET, according to the Georgia Democratic Party. Voters standing in line before the election was over were legally allowed to cast one vote.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, the two runoff elections in Georgia are the two most expensive Senate races of all time.
If even one of the Republicans wins, the GOP retains Senate control. Democrats must sweep both races to get a 50:50 split in the chamber. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would then hold a groundbreaking vote.
The election results will shape the first two years of the Biden agenda. If Republicans keep the Senate, they will push for a smaller coronavirus bailout package than Democrats hope to pass in the coming months. During a rally Monday, Biden and the Democratic Senate candidates stressed that victories in Georgia could help them provide $ 2,000 in direct aid payments – a plan that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Alone opposes.
A Democratic Senate would also give Biden a better chance to pass his economic recovery agenda and ratify his elected cabinet candidates and judges. Approval only requires a majority, while most laws require 60 votes to pass.
During the runoff election, Perdue and Loeffler appealed to Trump’s loyal supporters, including by supporting the outgoing president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud. In a climatic event days before the election, Trump threatened Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with a phone call to find votes that would undo Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Loeffler said in a statement on Monday that she would speak out against the certification of the results of the electoral college on Wednesday. The maneuver is likely to fail.
Some GOP strategists feared Trump’s ongoing attacks on the integrity of the Georgian elections could deter some Republicans from voting on Tuesday.
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