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It’s runoff day in Georgia: Here’s what you need to know

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 7:00 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s runoff Election Day in Georgia in an epic battle that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will face off against Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively. All for were on the Nov. 3 general election ballot, but none got a sufficient majority of votes to claim a seat.

With polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., poll workers across Georgia have geared up for a busy day. You need to take your state-issued ID to your polling location to vote. If you still have a mail-in absentee ballot, you can drop it off by 7 p.m. at your county’s elections office.

Richmond and Columbia counties have both reported record-breaking turnout during early voting.

Richmond County recorded more than 50,000 early voters and Columbia County saw around 47,000.

On Monday, crews were busy delivering tables and voting equipment to different voting sites.

Teams also started opening absentee ballot envelopes to make the process easier, but they won’t start counting until today.

The Richmond County Board of Elections says 37 percent of registered voters cast their ballot early. Even though it’s less than the numbers leading up to the general election in November, it’s a high number for runoffs.

“I think as far as what voters will see, is that it will take them a lot less time inside the booth. it will take them a whole lot longer to check in, to show their ID, and to go through the process than it will take for them to actually vote their ballot,” Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey said.

You can find your voting location on the My Voter Page of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office: https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do.

And if you need a ride to the polling site, Augusta Transit fares are free today.

The runoffs are part of a pivotal week for both major political parties. If Warnock and Ossoff win, Democrats will effectively control the Senate; with a 50/50 split, Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would serve as the tie-breaking vote.

Also coming up this week, Congress will vote Wednesday on certifying the Electoral College’s votes that gave Democrat Joe Biden his victory over sitting President Donald Trump. Loeffler says she will join a group of senators planning to object when the Senate votes on that matter.

Both parties pulled out all the stops in the runoff campaign, with the battle bringing major political names to the state.

President-elect Joe Biden held a rally in Atlanta on Monday with Ossoff and Warnock.

Biden told voters one state is all it takes to change the course of history.

“The power, the power is literally in your hands. Unlike any time in my career, one state, one state can chart the course, not just for the next four years, but for the next generation,” he said.

“When you vote for Jon and Raphael, you’ll be sending two senators who will fight for you, who will put Georgia first, who will put you first.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump also held a rally Monday in the Peach State in what was his last planned political rally of his presidency.

He traveled to Dalton with Loeffler.

Trump emphasized the national importance of Georgia’s runoffs, calling them a last line of defense against Democratic control of congress.

He also continued unproved claims of election fraud in Georgia, saying he is continuing to fight.

“Hello, Georgia. By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia, there’s no way. That was a rigged election, but we are still fighting it and you will see what is going to happen,” he told the crowd.

“If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House, and they are not taking this White House, we are going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now.”

Vice President Mike Pence was also in Georgia for an event in Milner.

It marked his fifth trip to Georgia to stump for the Republican senators.

Among the campaign visits across the state, Warnock, Ossoff and Loeffler came to Augusta on Monday. Perdue could not because he was in isolation after possible exposure to a coronavirus patient.

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