By LIBBY CATHEY, KATE PASTOR, MEREDITH DELISO and MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(ATLANTA) — Control of the Senate and the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda hangs in the balance in Georgia, with Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler facing Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock in twin runoff elections.
It may take days for the final results to become available, but ABC News projected early Wednesday that Warnock will win the race against Loeffler. In the race between Ossoff and Perdue, there is less than 1% separating the two candidates and thus is too close to call.
For live updates on the vote totals, click here.
Here is how the runoffs are unfolding. All times Eastern:
Jan 06, 4:12 pm
ABC News projects Ossoff victory over Perdue
ABC News projects that Jon Ossoff will defeat incumbent David Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoff election.
Ossoff, 33, claimed victory earlier Wednesday, before ABC News’ projection, in a video statement.
“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” Ossoff said. “Thank you for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me.”
Combined with the previously projected win for Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ossoff’s projected victory hands control of the Senate to the Democrats.
Jan 06, 3:03 pm
Raffensperger escorted out of state Capitol building, says deputy secretary of state
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and senior staffers have been escorted out of the state Capitol building after protestors gathered near the parking deck, according to Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.
He told ABC News that the protestors are members of a militia.
Raffensperger and his staff were walked to their cars by Capitol police, Fuchs said.
The incident occurred as pro-Trump demonstrators breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a lockdown with members of Congress.
–ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Jan 06, 2:04 pm
Here are Georgia’s election certification deadlines
Walter Jones, a spokesperson for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, shared certification deadline information with ABC News Wednesday for the runoff elections.
If Ossoff wins, and the results aren’t certified until the deadlines below, then President-elect Joe Biden won’t have a majority in the Senate until a few days after his inauguration.
If the results are certified and the Democrats are seated before Biden takes office, Democrats won’t have a majority until he’s inaugurated because they need Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
The deadlines are as follows.
Friday, Jan. 8: The deadline to cure rejected absentee ballots, deadline to verify provisional ballots (if voters lacked photo ID), and deadline for receiving military/overseas ballots postmarked by Election Day.
Friday, Jan. 15: The deadline for counties to certify election results (though this could happen sooner if everything is ready).
Friday, Jan. 22: The deadline for the secretary of state to certify election results (this also could happen sooner if everything is ready).
The deadline for a campaign to request a recount if the margin is less than 0.5% is two business days after the secretary certifies the election. If the secretary does this on Jan. 22, then a campaign would have until Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. to put in the request.
Georgia code says the secretary delivers the vote totals to the governor who issues a certificate of election to the winners
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Jan 06, 1:42 pm
Obama says ‘John Lewis is surely smiling down’ after Warnock’s projected win
Former President Barack Obama in a statement Wednesday congratulated Warnock on his historic projected win in Georgia.
“My friend John Lewis is surely smiling down on his beloved Georgia this morning, as people across the state carried forward the baton that he and so many others passed down to them,” Obama wrote.
He also lauded the “resilient, visionary leadership” of Stacey Abrams and added that, “Democrats in Georgia and across the country should feel good today.”
“Georgia’s first Black senator will make the chamber more reflective of our country as a whole and open the door for a Congress that can forego gridlock for gridlock’s sake to focus instead on the many crises facing our nation — pandemic relief for struggling families, voting rights, protecting our planet, and more,” Obama wrote.
He implored Americans to remain engaged in civic life.
“If we want to protect the gains we’ve made, achieve even more progress in the years to come, and reinforce the foundations of self-governance on which our country rests, there’s no better path to follow than the one forged by the determined, organized, and confidently hopeful people of Georgia,” Obama wrote.
Jan 06, 12:50 pm
Ossoff leads by 17,567 votes
Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, gave an election update Wednesday morning, saying that Ossoff is now leading over Perdue by 17,567 votes.
With 98% of the expected vote in, Ossoff leads with 50.2% (2,213,099 votes) to Perdue’s 49.8% (2,195,532 votes).
Sterling also said there has been no evidence of any irregularities in the process when asked about potential fraud.
“No evidence of any irregularities,” Sterling said. “We’ve had a few things come in on the hotline that might be investigated, but again, we’ve seen nothing widespread. We’ve seen nothing that seems real in any way, shape or form, quite honestly.”
Jan 06, 12:47 pm
An exuberant Schumer celebrates ‘a brand new day’ in America
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was clearly ecstatic Wednesday morning as he addressed reporters about the election results in Georgia which may turn the Senate over to Democratic control.
“We sure did not take the most direct path to get here, but we are here,” Schumer said. “It feels like a brand new day.”
Schumer said during his press conference today that passing $2,000 direct payments will be a top priority if Warnock and Ossoff are both seated. While ABC News can project Warnock’s victory, it has not yet projected an Ossoff victory.
Still, Schumer said Wednesday, “One of the first thing that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families.”
Schumer said he’s spoken to Biden and “pledged” that his administration will have an ally in the Democratic Senate.
“For too long much needed help has been stalled or diluted by a Republican-led Senate and President Trump. That will change with a Democratic Senate, Democratic House and a Democratic president,” Schumer said.
Jan 06, 12:14 pm
Warnock reflects on historic win as an ‘example of the American dream’
Fresh off his projected victory, Warnock stopped by ABC News’ “The View” on Wednesday to discuss his historic win.
“I am delighted and deeply honored that the people of Georgia have chosen me to represent them in the United States Senate,” Warnock said. “I know that these are some difficult and dark days, but every now and then God sends us a glimpse of hope and light, I think to encourage us to keep fighting the good fight.”
Warnock spoke directly to those who are struggling right now, saying, “you are looking at an iteration and example of the American dream.”
“I grew up in public housing. I’m one of 12 children in my family. I’m number 11 and the first college graduate,” Warnock added.
While ABC News has not projected an Ossoff victory, Warnock said he is confident that when the votes are counted he will prevail.
“I have no doubt that Jon Ossoff will also be a United States senator from the state of Georgia.”
The Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor added he hopes the Senate can be “a force for good.”
Warnock said he has not heard from the Loeffler campaign since his projected victory, but said he hopes to represent all Georgians, even those who did not vote for him.
Jan 06, 11:27 am
Biden reacts to Georgia runoffs
President-elect Joe Biden issued a lengthy statement on the Georgia Senate runoff elections, congratulating Rev. Raphael Warnock on his win and saying he is “hopeful that when the count is complete, Jon Ossoff will also be victorious.”
“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: They want action on the crises we face and they want it right now. On COVID-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more. They want us to move, but move together,” Biden said. “It looks like we will emerge from yesterday’s election with Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, and of course I’m pleased that we will be able to work with Speaker Pelosi and a Majority Leader Schumer.”
“But I’m also just as determined today as I was yesterday to try to work with people in both parties — at the federal, state, and local levels — to get big things done for our nation,” the president-elect added.
Jan 06, 11:01 am
At least 4.4 million vote in Georgia contests
Georgia voters set a new record in Tuesday’s runoff elections, with more than 4.4 million voters participating in the dual races.
The surge in turnout so far — with votes still to be tallied — wallops previous records for a runoff and also surpasses the total turnout for the 2016 general election.
Between the two races, turnout is nearly identical, according to the most recent data from the secretary of state’s office: 4,406,279 in the Loeffler/Warnock race and 4,406,181 in the Perdue/Ossoff race. The figures cap off two highly competitive contests in the emerging battleground state, and although Republicans were considered the favorites — particularly given Democrats’ poor showings in runoff elections historically in the state — an engaged electorate helped deliver at least one projected win for Democrats so far.
Before Tuesday, turnout was already record-shattering, with 3,093,375 voters casting their ballots early (1,018,381 by mail and 2,074,994 early in-person), according to Georgia Votes. The previous record of 2.14 million was set in 2008.
The total early vote also included at least 123,079 who did not participate in November’s general election, when nearly 5 million votes were tallied.
Jan 06, 10:51 am
Romney suggests Trump might have cost Republicans a win in Georgia
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, suggested that Trump’s rhetoric might have stopped Republicans from winning Georgia’s Senate runoff contests. ABC News has projected a Warnock victory but has not yet projected Ossoff as the winner — though he has garnered a significant lead.
“It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” Romney told reporters Wednesday morning.
Romney brushed off questions about his flight to Washington, D.C., Tuesday night, where video shows him being heckled by possible Trump supporters.
“That’s something I’ve gotten used to over the years,” Romney said. “That’s the nature of politics today.”
Jan 06, 8:42 am
Ossoff declares victory against Perdue
Ossoff declared victory Wednesday morning in his race against Perdue.
While ABC News has not yet projected the race, Ossoff has garnered a significant lead overnight and his margin is now nearly 5,000 votes greater than President-elect Joe Biden’s was over President Donald Trump in November.
“It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate,” Ossoff said in video statement. “Thank you for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me.”
Ossoff, as he has throughout his campaign, lamented the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and stressed the importance of the country getting a grip over the deadly virus.
“I will work in the U.S. Senate to support a robust public health response so that we can defeat this virus, putting Georgia’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the lead, trusting medical expertise, doctors, and scientists to bring the tools to bear, the technology to bear, the ingenuity to bear, and the resources to bear necessary to stop the spread of this virus to defeat it and to get our daily lives back — and to rush direct economic relief to people who need help right now,” he said.
Despite the bitter race with Perdue, Ossoff promised to be a senator for all Georgians.
“I want to thank the people of Georgia for participating in this election, everybody who cast your ballot, everybody who put your faith and confidence in our democracy’s capacity to deliver the representation that we deserve, whether you were for me, or against me, I’ll be for you in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “I will serve all the people of the state,” he said. “I will give everything I’ve got to ensuring that Georgia’s interests are represented in the U.S. Senate.”
Jan 06, 8:27 am
‘This is a historic moment,’ Warnock says
Warnock called his projected victory a “historic moment,” saying he “can’t wait” to be in the upper chamber of Congress “to represent the concerns of ordinary people.”
“I’m deeply honored that the people of Georgia decided to place their faith in me and have decided to send me to represent their interests in Washington, D.C.,” Warnock told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.
“Certainly, this is a historic moment and I’m just deeply grateful to be a vessel in a moment in which we’re facing such large problems in our country,” he added, “and I can’t wait to get to the U.S. Senate to represent the concerns of ordinary people.”
Warnock, a senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is the first Black senator Georgia has elected and only the 11th Black senator elected in U.S. history.
“Georgia is in such an incredible place when you think about the arc of our history, we are sending an African-American pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church where Martin Luther King Jr. served,” he said. “This is the reversal of the old southern strategy that sought to divide people. In this moment we’ve got to bring people together in order to do the hard work and I look forward to doing that.”
When asked about his top priority for this year in the Senate, Warnock said — as he has throughout his campaign — that the country needs to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.
“Like so many Americans, as we witnessed the incredible death toll over 350,000 Americans lost lives, lost livelihoods, we need a national strategy that takes this virus seriously, that gets the vaccine distributed safely and efficiently,” he said. “We’ve got to re-open our economy, get our kids safely back to school and we got to make sure that people know that they will have their health care, particularly in the middle of a pandemic.”
Jan 06, 7:54 am
Warnock’s lead now too big for Loeffler to request recount
Warnock’s edge over Loeffler continued to grow Wednesday morning and is now too big for the incumbent Republican senator to request a recount.
Warnock currently leads by 53,430 votes, which is a margin of 1.2% of all votes cast in the race.
ABC News projected just before 2 a.m. ET that Warnock will win.
Jan 06, 6:17 am
Ossoff’s edge over Perdue grows to more than 16,000 votes
Ossoff’s edge over Perdue has grown significantly, with votes coming in from the Democratic stronghold of DeKalb County. But that margin is still within recount territory.
With 98% of the expected vote reporting, Ossoff leads with 50.2% — 2,208,717 ballots — while Perdue trails behind with 49.8% — 2,192,347 ballots.
Ossoff’s lead of 16,370 votes is now greater than that of President-elect Joe Biden’s over President Donald Trump in Georgia (11,779 votes).
The margin is currently 0.4%, and if it remains less than 0.5%, Perdue would be entitled to request a machine recount after the results are certified.
Jan 06, 2:58 am
Perdue campaign says race is ‘exceptionally close’
Perdue’s campaign team released a statement early Wednesday, saying the race is “exceptionally close” but that they believe the incumbent Republican senator “will be victorious.”
“As we’ve said repeatedly over the last several weeks and as recently as this evening, this is an exceptionally close election that will require time and transparency to be certain the results are fair and accurate and the voices of Georgians are heard,” the Perdue campaign said. “We will mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted. We believe in the end, Senator Perdue will be victorious.”
The race between Perdue and his Democratic challenger, Ossoff, is too close to call as votes are still being tallied.
Jan 06, 2:08 am
Ossoff campaign releases statement projecting confidence
Ossoff’s campaign manager, Ellen Foster, released a statement early Wednesday saying that when all the votes are counted, their team “fully” expects Ossoff will win his Senate runoff against Perdue.
“The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant,” Foster said. “We look forward to seeing the process through in the coming hours and moving ahead so Jon can start fighting for all Georgians in the U.S. Senate.”
If Democrats win both Senate seats in Georgia, each party will have 50 senators, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaking vote for Democrats in the Senate.
Jan 06, 2:00 am
ABC News projects Warnock defeats Loeffler
Warnock, a prominent Black preacher who leads the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church, secured a barrier-breaking victory in Georgia on Tuesday night.
The native-born son, who delivers sermons from the pulpit that once belonged to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will become the first Black senator from Georgia — a feat that closes out an election cycle dominated by the role of race in politics.
He is only the second Black senator elected from the south since Reconstruction, and among a rare class of 10 Black Americans who have served in the upper chamber.
ABC News projected just before 2 a.m. that Warnock will topple Loeffler, a prominent Republican donor and staunch ally of President Trump who earned political office after being appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to the seat.
In the remaining Georgia Senate race between Ossoff and Perdue, there is less than 1% separating the two candidates and so, the race is too close to project.
Jan 06, 12:57 am
Warnock declares victory against Loeffler, pushes message of unity
Up by roughly 35,000 votes statewide, Warnock declared victory in Georgia with a virtual speech to supporters in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” Warnock said.
NEW: Rev. Raphael Warnock on his mother: “The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.” https://t.co/ocEFR2PyFH pic.twitter.com/eMMs2bjBz3
— ABC News (@ABC) January 6, 2021
ABC News has not made a projection on the race, but if Warnock wins, the native-born son, who delivers sermons from the pulpit that once belonged to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will become the first Black senator from Georgia.
“So I come before you tonight as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in the historic moment in America could only happen here,” Warnock continued. “May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold of the American dream.”
Taking a page from President-elect Joe Biden’s playbook, Warnock went on to say he’d be a senator for those who didn’t vote for him as much as for those who did support him.
“To everyone out there struggling today, whether you voted for me or not, know this, I hear you, I see you. And every day I’m in the United States Senate, I will fight for you,” he said.
Jan 06, 12:42 am
Loeffler insists she has a path to victory
While trailing her opponent by roughly 35,000 votes, Loeffler delivered remarks in the early hours of Wednesday morning projecting confidence in her race and insisting she still had a path to victory.
“This is a game of inches. We’re going to win this election,” Loeffler told a crowd of supporters in Buckhead.
“I’m not going to stop working. In the morning, in fact, I’m going to be heading to Washington, D.C., to keep fighting. We’re going to keep fighting for this president,” Loeffler said, teasing the counting of the Electoral College vote in Congress on Wednesday, which nearly a dozen GOP senators plan to object to.
Her opponent, Warnock, began speaking moments after she finished. Warnock and Ossoff did not hold large watch parties due to COVID-19 concerns.
Jan 06, 12:17 am
DeKalb County returns boost Dems
While Loeffler and Perdue have carried the lead in the Senate races for most of the night, with the bulk of votes in DeKalb County coming in, Warnock is leading Loeffler statewide, and Ossoff is close behind Perdue.
In DeKalb County, a Democratic stronghold where a massive amount of votes came in, Ossoff currently leads 82.5% to Perdue’s 17.5%. Warnock leads 83.2% to Loeffler’s 16.8%.
“Now you may be asking why is Warnock not doing much better than Ossoff?” said ABC News Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas. “If you essentially come out and you look at all the counties that surround Atlanta, Warnock is over-performing Ossoff by about 2,000 votes so far in each of those counties.”
According to the secretary of state’s website hosting the unofficial election results, there were at least 1,231,662 votes cast on Tuesday that have been counted so far — a high turnout for runoff elections.
-ABC News’ Meg Cunningham, Kendall Karson and Quinn Scanlan
Jan 05, 11:34 pm
Stacey Abrams tweets encouraging note to Dems as Warnock takes leads
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and founder of Fair Fight, sent an encouraging tweet to supporters moments after Warnock took the lead over Loeffler in his Senate race with 95% of the expected vote reporting in.
“With new votes joining the tally, we are on a strong path. But even while we wait for more, let’s celebrate the extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups that haven’t stopped going since Nov. Across our state, we roared. A few miles to go…but well done!” Abrams tweeted.
Gabriel Sterling, the state voting system implementation manager, said at an earlier election update that the largest portion of remaining uncounted votes was out of DeKalb County, a heavily Democratic suburban Atlanta area.
Jan 05, 10:10 pm
Election official says biggest tranche of uncounted votes from Dem county
Gabriel Sterling, the state voting system implementation manager, said in an evening election update that the largest portion of remaining uncounted votes is from DeKalb County, a heavily Democratic suburban Atlanta area.
“The biggest tranche of votes that exists out there in a single bucket right now still looks to be the advanced voting in DeKalb County,” Sterling said.
With 80% of the expected vote reporting in, GOP candidates Perdue and Loeffler are leading their races by small margins.
Sterling said from the press conference in Atlanta that he wasn’t aware of any issues that could delay the reporting but added, “It can be like seesaw for the rest of the evening.”
Sterling said 64 of the state’s 159 counties have completed reporting all votes.
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Jan 05, 9:28 pm
Georgia politician says Trump’s claims of fraud ‘absolutely’ depressed GOP turnout
Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, told ABC News Live he’s worried that President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud in the state “absolutely” might have depressed GOP turnout in the runoff races.
“Unfortunately, too many folks in our party over the last two months have been talking about misinformation, election fraud and creating a distraction,” Duncan said.
“We’ve been outworked, out-focused, but my hope is that Kelly Loeffler’s and David Purdue’s hard work over the last two months is going to get them across the finish line and help us kind of regroup as a party here in this state, and also as a country, and be able to roll back out and get the White House in 2024,” he added.
Jan 05, 9:16 pm
Biden’s agenda could hang in balance of runoff races
ABC News Chief Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce stressed the significance of Tuesday’s runoffs, not only because they will determine control of the Senate but because they leave President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda hanging in the balance.
“It’s not just how much he can get done but also the expediency with which he might be able to get things done,” Bruce said, outlining big promises in Biden’s agenda, from health care to climate change.
Biden has noted in recent days, while stumping for Democratic candidates, that if Democrats are able to win both seats, the $2,000 stimulus checks Democrats have been pushing for could happen immediately. Also, the approval of additional aid to state and local governments and resources to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in a more timely fashion could come quickly.
“Not to say that Joe Biden’s agenda would hit a complete brick wall if Republicans continue to maintain control in the Senate because, of course, Joe Biden prides himself on having a great working and personal relationship with Republican leader Mitch McConnell, but it certainly would make Joe Biden’s agenda and his political ambitions here much, much, much easier,” Bruce said.
Bruce also noted how the expected efforts by Republicans to object to the certification of the Electoral College results on Wednesday could give the public a sense of the “uphill battle” Biden may face if the GOP does maintain control of the Senate.
Jan 05, 8:56 pm
Black voter turnout ‘very encouraging sign’ for Democrats in Georgia
The turnout of Black voters in Georgia’s runoff Senate races rose a percentage point from what it was in November, according to ABC News’ preliminary exit poll — potentially a positive signal for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
The African American turnout is “a very encouraging sign for Democrats. It shows that they’re getting their base out,” ABC News Political Director Rick Klein said on ABC News Live.
“That’s a very encouraging sign for Democrats. It shows that they’re getting their base out,” ABC News’ @rickklein says as exit polls show that Black voters are 29 percent of the electorate in Georgia. https://t.co/AO3ahJp5B9 pic.twitter.com/Crxeam6sQm
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 6, 2021
Preliminary exit poll reporting shows that Black voters account for 29% of the electorate in Tuesday’s race, up from 28% in November.
The exit poll data indicates that 93% of Black voters turned out for both Ossoff and Warnock.
“[African Americans are] as reliable of a Democratic bloc as there is and so far the Democrats look like they did their job in getting them to the polls,” Klein said.
Jan 05, 8:01 pm
Early voting turnout breaks records, Tuesday turnout too early to call
More than 3 million voters in the Georgia runoff elections cast their ballots early — 1,018,381 by mail and 2,074,994 early in-person — according to Georgia Votes, already a record-setting figure for runoff elections.
The total early vote so far also includes 123,079 who did not participate in November’s general election — which is 35,000 more votes than the margin that separated Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff the first time around, when the incumbent Republican edged out his challenger by just over 88,000 votes. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock were competing in a jungle primary in which the large field diluted their vote shares.
The secretary of state’s office won’t have Tuesday’s in-person turnout numbers until at least 1 p.m. on Wednesday when counties are required to report how many ballots they received Tuesday in order to calculate the number of outstanding ballots. It may take days for the final results to become available depending on how close the races are.
Republicans are relying on high Election Day turnout, believing close to a million votes on Tuesday is likely their path to victory. At a rally in Dalton on Monday night, President Donald Trump signaled how many votes Republicans are eyeing: “I guess we have to get over a million votes tomorrow, right, Kelly? Over a million. All right. That’s a lot of votes, Kelly, but we’ll do it.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan, Kendall Karson and Meg Cunningham
Jan 05, 7:12 pm
Runoff voters nearly split on Senate control preference
The results of the runoff elections will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate — and voters are nearly split on their preference, preliminary exit poll results show.
Forty-nine percent prefer Republican Party control, while 48% prefer control by the Democrats, based on the preliminary results.
The GOP needs either seat to retain control of the Senate, while the Democrats need both to win control.
Voters also were nearly split in their vote for president in the general election, based on the preliminary results — suggesting that Democrats were holding their own in runoff turnout.
Voters in the race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler report having voted a dead-even 47%-47% Donald Trump-Joe Biden, preliminary results show. In the contest between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue, it’s about the same — 48%-47% Trump-Biden, based on preliminary results.
-ABC News’ Gary Langer, Christine Filer and Steven Sparks
Jan 05, 7:01 pm
Most polls close across Georgia, advocates urge voters to stay in line
Polls across the state are closing as a flurry of advocates urge those who haven’t voted and are still standing in line to stay past 7 p.m. and make sure their ballots are cast.
Georgia voters also had until 7 p.m. to return absentee ballots in drop boxes across the state.
A few polling precincts have gotten judicial extensions to be open past 7 p.m.: one in Gwinnett County, two in Columbia County, one in Tift County and two in Chatham County. There was also an accident near a polling place in Ware County that may lead to a judicial order extending poll closing time, said Gabriel Sterling, the state voting system implementation manager.
Sterling, in the most recent election update, described the day overall as “smooth voting, steady voting.”
He said the state was getting reports of longer lines forming in Houston, Cherokee, Paulding and Forsyth counties with wait times approaching an hour, but not going over.
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Jan 05, 6:56 pm
With final voting underway, Obama reminds Georgians to stay in line
Former President Barack Obama tweeted to Georgia voters that while state polls close at 7 p.m., they should stay in line if they’ve arrived at their polling location in time.
“You have the right to vote, no matter how long it takes,” Obama tweeted.
Georgia voters—If you’re in line before the polls close at 7 pm, stay there. You have the right to vote, no matter how long it takes. If you have questions, call the Georgia voter protection hotline at 1-888-730-5816. Let’s bring this home.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 5, 2021
Some precincts in the state will be open past 7 p.m. due to court orders.
Obama joined a virtual rally for Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff earlier this month and has appeared in digital ads for both candidates. On Monday, the former president tweeted “the stakes could not be higher” in promoting the runoff elections.
Jan 05, 6:51 pm
Majority of Georgia voters think presidential election was fair
A majority of voters in Georgia’s Senate runoffs think the presidential election was fair, preliminary exit poll results show.
More than half — 56% — of voters think the presidential election in Georgia was conducted fairly, while 41% do not, according to the preliminary results.
President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by nearly 12,000 votes in Georgia. Trump repeatedly has made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Georgia, among other states.
Most voters also express at least some confidence in the current runoff elections. Seventy-three percent are very or somewhat confident that votes in the runoffs will be counted accurately, while 26% are not very or not at all confident, according to the preliminary results. This is down from a similar question in November, when 85% were very or somewhat confident that votes in their state would be counted accurately.
-ABC News’ Gary Langer, Christine Filer and Steven Sparks
Jan 05, 6:12 pm
Election official says biggest issue at polls is ‘rumors’
Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, provided an update on the runoff elections, reporting no major issues at this point in the day.
“The biggest thing is we have to deal with is rumors,” Sterling said. “Everybody’s kind of on edge for some of these things. But in general, it’s been steady as she goes.”
Sterling said that while there are also reports circulating about turnout, it’s impossible for the state to know how many have voted so far Tuesday because the voting systems are not connected to the internet.
“So it’s anecdotal evidence that we receive,” he said. “If there’s not lines, it doesn’t mean that there’s not a high turnout. It just means they’re processing people.”
Sterling predicted Tuesday’s turnout could be as low as 600,000 or as high as 1.1 million, stressing, “We just have no way of knowing.”
The maximum number of absentee ballots outstanding, he said, is 306,855. Sterling later tweeted a correction to the maximum number of potential outstanding absentee ballots, saying the correct number is 229,357. These are due by 7 p.m. when most polls close across the state.
Sterling said the public will know about the biggest bulk of votes Tuesday night, but it’s unclear when final results will be known.
“We’re gonna start getting results tonight. We’re gonna get the biggest bulk of them, like we did last time, it depends on the margin,” he said. “If I’m a betting person, which I’m not, I would say it’s gonna be a couple of days, because I anticipate it will be a close race one way or the other.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Jan 05, 3:46 pm
Biden ‘optimistic’ about runoffs in Georgia
President-elect Joe Biden said that he feels “optimistic” about Tuesday’s pivotal runoff elections in Georgia during an interview on V103 with Kenny Burns, a local Atlanta radio host.
“I’m doing really well, feeling really optimistic about today,” Biden told Burns.
Asked what specific policies he expects to come before the Senate this year that make it so critical for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock to win, Biden cited both the need to get $2,000 payments to struggling Americans and harshly criticized the federal government’s vaccine distribution plan at length, saying Congress needs to be able to provide support to get the vaccine out to all Americans.
“Right now, for example in Georgia, you have only about 75,000 people who have gotten the vaccination, yet you got about a half a million doses of that vaccine in the state. There’s no planning. The federal government has done virtually no planning. It’s one thing to get a vaccination — to get to get the actual vial — sent to you in a frozen pack. It’s another thing to get it into a needle and the vaccination into somebody’s arm,” Biden said.
“So I’m gonna need [Congress’] help in making sure that we establish thousands of federally-run and federally-supported community vaccination centers of various sizes across the country. Located in high school gyms or NFL football stadiums,” Biden said, adding that the vaccination project has to involve multiple levels of the government including FEMA and the under his administration vaccines will be free.
“The inability of the president and the Republican leadership, and Trump in particular, preventing that from being made available to the states is just — it’s just almost criminal in my view. And people are dying,” Biden later added.
The president-elect once again hammered Georgia’s two Republican senators and candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, saying they’ve forgotten who they have been elected to represent.
“Look here’s the thing that’s happening. Because of the Republican senators of Georgia, their loyalty is to Trump, not to the people of Georgia. I mean, when I got sworn into the Senate I didn’t swear allegiance to the president, whether it was a Democrat or Republican. I’m not going to have any senators swear allegiance to me. It’s to the Constitution and to the state of Georgia, that’s who you represent,” Biden said.
-ABC News’ John Verhovek, Beatrice Peterson and Molly Nagle
Jan 05, 3:37 pm
Georgia election going ‘smoothly,’ SOS says
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is reporting that Tuesday’s election is running “smoothly,” saying in a statement that “Georgia’s election administration is hitting a new milestone for effectiveness and efficiency.”
“After wait times averaging just 2 minutes on November 3rd, Georgia’s election administration is hitting a new milestone for effectiveness and efficiency,” the statement said. “I have always said that after every election, half the people will be happy and half will be disappointed, but everyone should be confident in the reliability of the results.”
The press release from Raffensperger’s office says that as of 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, no polling locations reported wait times longer than 30 minutes, and only one precinct reported a wait time of more than 20 minutes. The release says there have been “few issues and almost nonexistent wait times.”
Trump tweeted that he had heard about an issue in the 12th Congressional District.
Without referencing the president’s tweet, the press release from the secretary of state’s office addresses this issue, stressing that “at no point did voting stop.”
“The only reported issues occurred in Columbia County, Georgia, just outside of Augusta (parts of which are in the 12th District), and were resolved by 10 am,” the statement said. “At no point did voting stop as voters continued casting ballots on emergency ballots, in accordance with the procedures set out by Georgia law.”
“In Columbia County, a small number of the keys that start up the paper-ballot scanners were programmed incorrectly,” it continues. “Additionally, a few poll worker cards were programmed incorrectly, meaning some poll workers were unable to start the touch screen voting machines used for paper-ballot voting. The correct keys and voter cards were delivered to the relevant precincts with a law enforcement escort. Issues were resolved by 10am.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
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