Georgia Senate runoff: Why is it happening and how does it work?

Georgia’s Senate race will be decided in a runoff on Dec. 6 after neither Republican Herschel Walker nor Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock received more than 50% of the votes in Tuesday’s midterm election, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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On Wednesday, Raffensperger announced that even with the ballots that had yet to be counted in the race, neither man would be able to hit the 50% plus one vote total that would be needed to win.

As of Thursday, Warnock has 49.42% of the votes cast to Walker’s 48.52%.

“I will ask the voters to come out and vote one last time,” Raffensperger said Wednesday. The ballots are already being created, he said, in advance of the runoff race to be held in a month.

The winner of the race could determine who wins control of the U.S. Senate. As of Wednesday, Democrats have 48 seats, Republicans have 49 seats and two states — Nevada and Arizona — are still counting.

How does Georgia’s runoff work? Here’s what we know about it now.

Why is there a runoff if one candidate has more votes than the other?

Georgia law requires a statewide candidate to receive 50% of the vote plus one to win an election. Should no candidate get that many votes, then the top two vote-getters must face off in a runoff that is to be held four weeks after the general election.

Who votes in a runoff election?

Voters who registered to vote by Nov. 7 may participate in a runoff. You cannot register to vote in the runoff now.

When is the runoff being held?

The runoff is set for Dec. 6 because of a change in Georgia law, according to WSB-TV. The law changed the date of a runoff to four weeks following a general election.

Previously, the runoff was nine weeks after an election.

Is there early voting?

Yes, early voting can begin a week prior to the runoff date, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. That is Nov. 26 at the earliest.

What about an absentee ballot?

You can request an absentee ballot.

Do other states have similar runoffs?

Yes, one is taking place in Alaska’s Senate race.

Alaska conducts ranked-choice elections, where voters pick the first choices on their ballots, then rank the other candidates in order of preference.

If no candidate receives 50% plus one first-choice votes on the first count, the election moves to an instant runoff.

Then, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated.

The ballots cast for that candidate are recast for the voters’ second choice. The process repeats until a single candidate has 50% plus one vote.