All eyes turn to Georgia as both their Senate races move to January runoffs


Editor’s Note: This article has been amended to reflect the fact that the last time Democrats held a majority in both houses was in 2011 and not 1955.

The two seats up for election in Georgia will determine what party will hold the Senate majority for the upcoming year, but the state is currently not showing a clear majority winner making the Georgia elections a divisive player in the country’s future. Here is what you need to know.   

Q: What is a runoff?

A: A runoff is an election race that is held between the two top candidates when neither candidate meets the criteria for winning. Georgia requires the candidates to receive a majority of the vote in order to win, and if that doesn’t happen it goes to a runoff. 

Q: Why does Georgia have a runoff system?

A: Georgia adopted the runoff system after the Supreme Court struck down the old electoral system. The old system was called the county-unit system, University of Georgia Political Science Professor Charles Bullock called it “kind of a poor man’s Electoral college.”in an interview with Vice


The county unit system advantaged white rural voters and was of detriment to the black vote. When coming up with a new system Georgia needed a way to continue to suppress the black vote, and the runoff system was the answer.


Q: Why does Georgia have two runoffs this year?

A: This year Georgia has two Senate seats open with Republican David Perdue being up for re-election, and Republican Johnny Isakson resigning in Aug. 2020,triggering a special election. 


The special election consisted of a melting pot of candidates and was likely headed to a runoff from the beginning as the vote was  spread too thin.


The Race for Perdue’s seat came down to the wire with two candidates receiving approximately 49% of the vote, and a third candidate receiving 2%.


In both cases, the top two candidates advanced to the runoff. 


Q: When will the runoff happen?

A: The runoff will take place on the Tuesday of the ninth week after the election. This year it will take place on Jan. 5. In addition to in-person voting, early voting will be held for three weeks prior to the election and absentee ballots can be requested to vote via mail.


Q: So, why does this all matter?

A: Georgia’s Senate races are now more important than ever because they will decide which way the Senate sways. Currently, the GOP leads in the senate election with 50 seats to the Democrats’ 48. 


If Democrats can pull off two wins in Georgia, they would tie the GOP for seats and take majority rule of the Senate, as Vice President-Elect  Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote.  Democrats have not held the majority in both houses since 2011.