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Nearly 5 million ballots were cast in Georgia, where razor-thin margins in the presidential election mean the state will enter a recount process in the coming weeks, and a January runoff will decide the fate of both the state’s Senate seats. Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Rickey Bevington joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss why, between now and January’s runoff election, all eyes will be on Georgia.
One of the too-close-to-call states where there will be a recount is the presidential election in Georgia. There are also two US Senate seats where no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. That means there will be a runoff election that will determine which party controls the Senate during the Biden administration.
I spoke with Rickey Bevington, senior correspondent for Georgia Public Broadcasting, who joined us from Atlanta.
Rickey, it's surprising to a lot of people that Georgia played such an influential and critical role in this election. Going forward, regardless of what the count is at this very moment, there's going to be a recount, right?
Absolutely, Hari. So Georgia will first do an audit next week. Georgia has a brand new elections and voting and balloting system. So there'll be an audit, which is not a recount, next week simply to make sure that the new system worked, right. And then after the audit, in about two weeks, it will be an actual recount of the nearly five million ballots cast in the state of Georgia in 2020.
And then as we turn this page, if we turn this page easily, Georgia is going to have two Senate runoff elections coming January 5th. And, first of all, it's not usual to have two Senate elections at the same time, but they're incredibly influential this time.
It's pretty extraordinary. Georgia really is going to be the center of the American political universe between now and January 5th, which is the runoff Election Day. Incumbent Republican David Perdue is seeking a second term. He did not get the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and incumbent appointed senator, another Republican, Kelly Loeffler, also did not get above the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff.
Now, there were 20 challengers against Loeffler. This was a very unique special election. Rarely would we see two senatorial elections in one year. However, our former senior senator Johnny Isakson had to resign, retire about a year ago due to health reasons. So Loeffler was appointed, she took office in January. And so that's why we called it a 'jungle primary' and any candidate could run who wanted to. Loeffler will face the Reverend Raphael Warnock on January 5th. He is currently pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King's former church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
And those two Senate races could very well determine the balance of power in the US Senate and really what kind of power Joe Biden would have if he is president.
It's it's pretty extraordinary, Hari, and there's no way to know who's going to win. If both Democrats are successful, which would be another historic event in these two Senate runoffs. Yes, the Democrats would take the Senate. If one wins, this is what I mean when I say that Georgia is going to be the center of the political universe. It's extraordinary. And, of course, there's Kamala Harris, who would be a tiebreaker vote in the Senate if it's just that close in terms of the balance of power. Now, we are expecting in Georgia, millions and millions of dollars to be spent by a lot of groups trying to get out the vote for their candidate come January 5th.
Rickey Bevington of Georgia Public Broadcasting, thanks so much.
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