Why the winners in Georgia runoffs may not be identified for days

By Jason Lange and Brad Heath

(Reuters) – The way forward for Democrat President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda hinges on two Senate runoff races in Georgia whose end result may not be identified for days after polls shut on Tuesday.

Public opinion polls present Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have about the identical degree of assist as their Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Following are key details on the vote-counting course of and what to anticipate as election returns begin to are available in Tuesday night time.

WHY MIGHT THIS DRAG ON?

Gradual counting of Georgia’s mail ballots in November’s presidential election saved the world at the hours of darkness about who gained the state till three days after polls closed. Biden ended up successful the state by lower than 12,000 votes out of about 5 million solid.

An analogous delay might unfold after Tuesday’s contests if the races are actually shut, mentioned Walter Jones, a spokesman for the workplace of Georgia’s high election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“We could also be taking a look at a number of days,” Jones mentioned, including that the delay would principally come from mail ballots returned on Election Day.

Election officers can not begin counting ballots till 7 p.m. on Tuesday, although they’ve began processing them, corresponding to checking that voter signatures on mail ballots match these on report.

Almost 1 million mail-in ballots have been processed by Sunday, state information exhibits. These ballots, in addition to greater than 2 million solid in individual at early voting facilities, will seemingly be counted rapidly on Election Night time.

However for the mail votes that arrive on Election Day, officers will nonetheless must open envelopes, examine signatures and cargo the ballots in counting machines. They will even must course of a whole bunch of 1000’s of votes anticipated to be solid in person who day.

RED MIRAGE?

In November, mail ballots closely favored Biden in Georgia and different swing states, whereas President Donald Trump led in votes solid in individual. If extra Democrats once more vote by mail this time, preliminary outcomes might equally present Republicans in a lead that provides technique to Democrats catching up.

The gradual counting of mail ballots was a key cause why Trump took an early lead on Election Night time on Nov. 3, solely to path Biden within the days that adopted as extra mail ballots have been counted.

In the long run, a few quarter of Georgia’s ballots in November have been solid by mail and Biden gained about two-thirds of them, state information exhibits. The remainder have been solid in individual, with about 55% going to Trump.

“Preliminary outcomes will typically replicate the state of the race however most likely will likely be somewhat redder than what they may find yourself being,” mentioned Kyle Kondik, a political analyst on the College of Virginia’s Middle for Politics.

RECOUNTS

Georgia did two recounts of November’s presidential contest: a hand recount of paper ballots ordered by the state’s high election official, and a subsequent recount utilizing laptop scanners that was requested by the Trump marketing campaign.

Georgia permits a shedding candidate to pressure a recount if the margin of victory is lower than or equal to 0.5% of the full vote within the race. A recount should be requested inside two days of the outcomes being licensed by election officers.

Candidates can even request a recount in the event that they assume there was an error within the tabulation; in that case it is as much as the secretary of state to determine whether or not to conduct one. Native election officers even have the ability to recount leads to their county earlier than the outcomes are licensed.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Brad Heath; Modifying by Soyoung Kim and Dan Grebler)

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