For most of the country, elections—national, state and local—were over sometime during the week of November 3. It was a harrowing week for Americans as the fate of the nation hung in the balance.
But in Georgia, the end remains elusive.
Under Georgia law, candidates running for office must win a majority of the vote to win. If the threshold is not met, the two candidates with the most votes advance to a runoff election. This law was formed in the 1960s to keep white politicians in power because the Georgia legislature believed that Black politicians would win more easily with the largest number of votes in a race with multiple candidates.
Every two years, a third of U.S. senate seats are up for election to avoid excessive turnover in a given year. This year, Georgia has two runoff elections. Senator David Perdue (R) was up for re-election as expected—he was elected in 2014, and senatorial terms are six years. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) was appointed in 2019 to take Senator Johnny Isakson’s place when he stepped down because of health issues. She was facing a special election to be able to serve the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.
Both elections led to a runoff election that will be held on January 5, 2021. These seats are pivotal to deciding which party controls the Senate. If the Democrats win both seats, then they will have 50 seats and an effective majority because the Vice President can break a tie. In this case, Vice President Kamala Harris is a Democrat, so she could break a tie in the Democrats’ favor. The stakes for both parties are high.
In Georgia’s senate election, Jon Ossoff is facing Senator Perdue. Ossoff is an accomplished investigative journalist and executive of a media company exposing corruption and war crimes. He is endorsed by his mentor, the late legendary Congressman John Lewis. Reverend Raphael Warnock is facing Senator Loeffler. Warnock serves as pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Currently, some Republicans are discouraging voters to participate in the Georgia special election, claiming the voting process is too untrustworthy for their votes to count. This tactic is oddly self-destructive because Republicans need people to vote if they want any chance of retaining control of the Senate. In addition, President Trump’s continued unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud may depress voter turnout even more.
As we face the final remnants of election season, let us not forget the importance of voting to American democracy. When we do not vote, we cannot elect a government representative of the people. The two Georgia runoff elections are perfect examples of why voting matters. The results can make a profound difference in how our government works over the next two years. So, Georgians – get out to vote!