Georgians may be asked to return to the ballot box not once, but twice, for runoffs

As some of the last votes are counted across the state on Friday evening, updated tallies suggest Georgia voters may be asked to return to the ballot box not once, but twice, for statewide runoffs before the 2020 election season can conclude. Runoffs for state and federal offices are held on different dates to comply with federal law requiring additional time to distribute and receive military and overseas ballots in federal elections.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced on November 11 that the statewide runoff for Public Service Commission would be moved from December 1 to January 5 to coincide with the runoffs for US Senate.

As of press time, the leading candidate in the election for Public Service Commission district 4 has fallen below the 50%+1 threshold required to avoid a runoff. Republican incumbent Lauren Bubba McDonald, Jr. has 49.98% of the vote followed by Democratic candidate Daniel Blackman with 46.90% of the vote. Libertarian candidate Nathan Wilson has received 3.12% of the vote.

In the second statewide election for Public Service Commission district 1, incumbent Jason Shaw (R) has 50.19% of the vote and is 9,078 votes above the runoff threshold. The latest estimate has at least 13,000 provisional ballots and 8,000 military / overseas ballots outstanding that could be cured or received in time to count.

Public Service Commissioners are elected to six-year terms. Candidates qualify based on their residency within geographic districts to run for office, but all voters statewide participate in the election.

If the results hold as-is and a runoff election is required, early voting would likely be available for one week — the week of Thanksgiving — similar to statewide runoffs in 2018. This year, those dates would be November 23 – 27. Election Day for the runoff is scheduled on December 1, 2020.

Runoff for US Senate

Georgia’s two US Senate elections are both expected to go to runoffs on January 5, 2021. The special election to finish the term of Senator Johnny Isakson was practically guaranteed to require a runoff following the twenty candidate contest, but no candidate has 50%+1 in the regular election for the seat held by Senator Perdue.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) will face-off in the special election runoff for essentially a two-year term in the US Senate. The seat will next appear on the 2022 ballot for its regular six-year term.

Senator David Perdue (R) and Jon Ossoff (D) will compete in the second runoff for a full six-year term. The political party that can best energize its base to return to the polls will likely determine the winner in both contests.

Early voting for the federal runoff starts on December 14. Moving Henry Forward will share the early voting schedule and locations for both runoff elections after they are approved by the Henry County Board of Elections.

Election results are unofficial as of 6:30 pm on Friday, November 6. This article has been updated following the Secretary of State’s announcement to move the runoff date for PSC.