Georgia has two runoff election dates after the general election

Runoffs will decide two Georgia U.S. Senate races in January; State PSC runoff also moved to January

Georgia voters will have some unfinished voting business after Tuesday’s general election. Two dates have been set for runoff elections, held to choose the winner of races in which no candidate won a legal majority.

But the runoff that is getting national attention is the second one, on Jan. 5, that will decide both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate elections and potentially which party controls the U.S. Senate. (The runoff for state and local races is Dec. 1.)

The voter registration deadline for the Georgia Senate runoffs is Monday, Dec. 7.

ExploreFull coverage of the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs

If a runoff for a general election seems unusual, it is. Georgia is one of the few states that requires the winning candidate to receive a majority vote in the general election.

Adding to the oddity is that Georgia has two U.S. Senate races on the ballot and both will now be decided by runoffs. Republican Sen. David Perdue faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in one race. Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in the second. Georgia’s twin U.S. Senate runoffs are bringing national attention to Georgia, including expected visits by national political leaders. And local television will be filled with campaign advertising for a few more weeks.

ExploreGeorgia’s twin January runoffs are set to determine control of U.S. Senate

Why two dates? Federal elections, such as the U.S. Senate and Congress, follow different rules for runoffs, including an extension of voter registration. The nine-week runoff election for federal races is used in Georgia because federal law requires time for overseas voters to return ballots in federal elections, such as the U.S. Senate.

ExploreWhat are the rules on possible recounts in Georgia election?

When are the runoffs?

>> How to request an absentee ballot online

UPDATE: The expected runoff for the Georgia Public Service Commission will be moved to Tuesday, Jan. 5, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said on Nov. 11.

ExploreAtlanta voters: If you live in Senate District 39, info about the Dec. 1 runoff

The voter registration deadline for the January runoff, which applies only to voters who are not already registered, is Dec. 7, 2020.

Under Georgia law, a runoff is possible in any election with more than two candidates, because state law requires a candidate to be elected by a majority vote. The Georgia special election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler, had 21 candidates, so the runoff in that election was no surprise.

In the second race, the presence of a third candidate, Libertarian Shane Hazel, created the possibility of a runoff.

Both U.S. Senate runoff elections will be on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

ExploreA deeper look: What history tells us about U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia

Runoffs are more common in primary elections, but voting experts have said they are more likely to be required in Southern states, according to previous AJC reporting. Primary runoffs are required, for example, in Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to reporting by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia, however, is one of two states requiring a runoff in general elections, according to FindLaw.com.

Changing the runoff requirement would require action by the Georgia Legislature.

One important exception to the runoff requirement is the presidential election. There is no runoff for presidential candidates. Georgia law provides a specific exemption for the presidential vote.

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