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With US Senate at Stake, Georgia Votes in Runoff Elections

With US Senate at Stake, Georgia Votes in Runoff Elections
People cast their vote in the Georgia runoff election at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center oin Atlanta Tuesday. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 05 January 2021 02:15 PM EST

Voters streamed to polling sites in Georgia Tuesday in a pair of runoff elections to determine control of the U.S. Senate,a fter a dizzying campaign that shattered spending and early turnout records.

Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler faced Democrat challengers Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a pastor at a Black church in Atlanta in a state that has certified Democrat Joe Biden the narrow winner over President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democrats must win both Georgia races to seize Senate control from the Republicans.  Results are expected to be known by Wednesday morning.

No Democrat has won a Senate race in Georgia in two decades. Opinion surveys show both races as exceedingly close. The runoff elections, a quirk of state law, became necessary when no candidate in either senatorial race exceeded 50% of the vote in November.

Voters endured long waits at some polling sites, and no lines at others.

In Atlanta, Jonathan Temple, 57, said he backed the two Republicans.

"If we lose, we'll get higher taxes for sure - you can bet on it," Temple said. "We'll have a runaway liberal agenda, runaway spending. That's not good for America."

Voting in Cobb County outside Atlanta, Roshard Tamplin, 42, said he supported the two Democrats, citing civil rights and voting rights as important issues.

"They're trying to make it harder to vote, especially for Black people," Tamplin, who is Black, said of Republicans.

The final days of the tense contests were dominated by Trump's continued efforts to change the state's presidential election results.

On Saturday, Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to everse Biden's victory, claiming massive fraud.

Trump's efforts to undo his loss - with some Republicans planning to object to the certification of Biden's win when Congress meets Wednesday to formally count the presidential vote - have caused a split in his party.

Trump and Biden campaigned in Georgia on Monday. It remains to be seen whether Trump's claims about election fraud will dissuade Republicans from voting in Georgia, as some in the party have feared.

A double Democrat victory would split the Senate 50-50, with Democrat Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote if Trump fails to overturn the Democrat pair's victory.

Democrats control the House of Representatives, with the number of seats allotted to states determined by their population. Democratic control of both chambers could boost Biden's legislative agenda in areas such as economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic, climate change policy, healthcare and policing reform.

Voting in Marietta, voter LaVonte Jackson, 42, supported the Democrats, saying, "Kamala and Biden have a lot of work to do, especially after four years of Trump. I don't know if there's been a more important vote."

Scott Sweeney, 63, backed Perdue and Loeffler to block the Democrats from capturing the Senate.

"I believe the two of them are consistent with my values," Sweeney said in Cobb County. "Taxes for one, and traditional values."

If elected, Warnock would become Georgia's first Black U.S. senator and Ossoff, at 33, the Senate's youngest member. Perdue is a former Fortune 500 executive who has served one Senate term. Loeffler, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was appointed a year ago to fill the seat of a retiring senator.

Raffensperger told Fox News the election results will likely be known on Wednesday morning. Raffensperger said Trump's claims on voter fraud hurt voter confidence in the runoffs, adding, "I can assure you that it will be a fair and honest election, that it'll be safe and it'll be dependable."

Polls are open until 7 p.m. EST. Some 3 million ballots were cast in early in-person and mail-in voting, mirroring a pandemic-related trend seen in November.

Democrats were encouraged by the early vote, including strong numbers from Black voters, seen as crucial to their chances. Republicans have historically turned out in higher numbers on Election Day.

Speaking to reporters in Atlanta, Ossoff said Georgians want equal justice, economic relief, help fighting the pandemic and an end to Washington's gridlock.

"That's the kind of change that Georgia voters have been turning out in record numbers to demand," Ossoff said.

Perdue and Loeffler have supported Trump's fraud claims while arguing they represent the last barrier to unrestrained liberalism in Washington.

"We'll look back on this day if we don't vote and really rue the day that we turn the keys to the kingdom over to the Democrats," Perdue, whose current term technically ended on Sunday, told Fox News on Tuesday.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Politics
Voters streamed to polling sites in Georgia Tuesday in a pair of runoff elections to determine control of the U.S. Senate,a fter a dizzying campaign that shattered spending and early turnout records.
georgia, runoff, election
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2021-15-05
Tuesday, 05 January 2021 02:15 PM
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