Georgia secretary of state confirms U.S. Senate runoff, provides details

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Ready to do it all again?

With all counties reporting election night results, incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock held a slim lead on Republican challenger Herschel Walker, but not quite enough to push him over the required majority threshold of 50% plus one vote.

The shortfall sends the race to a runoff to be staged Dec. 6, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirmed Wednesday.

"Most of the races have a clear winner," said Raffensperger during a Wednesday press conference. "There is one race in our state that is going to go to a Dec. 6 runoff, and that is the race for United States Senate between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker."

Up and down the ballot in statewide offices, Republicans won outright, from governor to commissioner of insurance. Warnock leading his opponent was an exception.

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Herschel Walker, left, and incumbent Raphael Warnock are running for U.S. Senate.
Herschel Walker, left, and incumbent Raphael Warnock are running for U.S. Senate.

How does the Georgia runoff work?

According to data from the Secretary of State office's website, Warnock won 1,941,275 votes while Walker won 1,906,192. That gave Warnock 49.41% of the vote total, with about 2% of voters casting ballots for Chase Oliver, the Libertarian candidate.

Raffensperger also outlined the procedure for voters as the runoff rolls out. Voters can use all three methods — absentee, early in-person voting and election day voting — even with the compressed timeline.

  • Absentee ballots can be requested through Monday, Nov. 28.

  • Early voting must begin no later than Monday, Nov. 28,

  • Some counties are likely to have Saturday voting until Thanksgiving and on Nov. 26.

Raffensperger said that the counties are prepared for the runoff, which will happen over a shorter time frame than the Senate runoff in 2020.

"I would ask the voters to come out and vote one last time," Raffensperger said. "We have no control over how many campaign ads our voters are going to see over the next 30 days, but we'll make sure that they have honest and fair elections."

Candidates already getting ready

Both sides expressed their determination to return to campaigning and win the runoff.

"I congratulate Herschel Walker on an amazing race," wrote Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer in a press release. "Herschel has our unwavering support and we fully stand behind him as we work together to defeat Raphael Warnock once and for all."

Hours after the runoff, the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America announced they would spent at least $1 million in the Georgia runoff, backing Walker.

“Our field team has visited over 456,000 homes in Georgia to expose Raphael Warnock’s pro-abortion extremism and support Herschel Walker," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization, was quoted as saying in a news release. "We are proud to back Herschel and will work tirelessly to secure his victory in the runoff."

Warnock's campaign manager, Quentin Fulks, took to Twitter to outline Walker's underperformance compared to other Republicans on the ticket, concluding "last night was a good night for (Warnock) and a bad night for (Walker)."

Meanwhile, even before the runoff was officially confirmed, organizers with a coalition of progressive voter access organizations, including the New Voter Project founded by Stacey Abrams, held a news conference to discuss what more could have been done and how they plan to organize for the runoff.

"We have just four weeks, including over the Thanksgiving holiday, to do this all over again," said Kendra Cotton, New Georgia Project Action Fund CEO. "... We're experienced in how to turn out voters for a runoff. We've done this before and we're prepped with the knowledge, tools and people power to do it all again."

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Georgia Senate race runoff: what to know about what comes next