Georgia bill could end runoffs by deciding winners in general election

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Prospects of plurality-wins proposal uncertain in General Assembly

Runoffs would be eliminated after Georgia general elections as long as a candidate wins at least 45% of the vote, according to a Democratic-sponsored bill filed Wednesday.

It’s the first proposal introduced this year to do away with runoffs after U.S. Senate races went into overtime both last year and in 2020. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock swept those three runoffs.

The legislation, House Bill 419, would end Georgia’s requirement for runoffs when no candidate wins a majority in general elections featuring Democratic, Libertarian and Republican candidates.

Instead, candidates would be elected if they receive a plurality of votes cast, which is similar to how most states decide elections.

Georgia is one of three states, along with Louisiana and Mississippi, that mandate runoffs after general elections when no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote. No other state requires runoffs after both primary and general elections.

“Georgians are tired of runoffs extending the campaign cycle into December,” said state Rep. Saira Draper, a Democrat from Atlanta who introduced the bill. “While others around the country are sitting down for Thanksgiving turkey with their families and planning their winter holidays, Georgians are subjected to a barrage of increasingly negative campaign commercials and mailers. It’s time to reform our system.”

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Without any co-sponsors from the Republican majority in the General Assembly, the bill’s prospects are uncertain.

Democrats have won recent runoffs in Georgia, but Republicans dominated runoffs in previous years.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly have said they’d consider ideas to eliminate runoffs but hadn’t decided whether they’d support a change.

The proposed plurality-wins system would reverse the majority requirement approved by Republicans in 2005 after they took control of the General Assembly.

A poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January found that 58% of people surveyed supported eliminating general election runoffs by declaring whichever candidate receives the most votes the winner.

American Dream for Rent: An AJC Investigation

Large investment firms are pushing homeownership out of reach for many first-time buyers, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found. Single-family houses have been snatched up in the thousands by private equity firms and publicly traded companies, converted into rental properties and bundled into complex investment vehicles.


American Dream For Rent: Investors elbow out individual home buyers. Metro Atlanta is ground zero for corporate purchases, locking families into renting.

Investors zero in on Black neighborhoods. Buy-to-rent push puts home ownership further out of reach in metro Atlanta.

Why corporate purchases took off. Crisis opened door to corporate buying spree

Investors slam tenants with fees, evictions: Private equity makes big push into metro Atlanta’s single-family homes

Investor homes spark neighborhood tensions: Suburban Atlanta home owners clash with firms buying, building single-home rentals

Capitol nixes oversight amid housing crunch: State legislature blames local government, not investors, for rising prices

About this investigation


Politically Georgia podcast: Inside the American Dream for Rent investigation