Today is Election Day again in Georgia, as residents of the Peach State cast their ballots again for U.S. Senate candidates.
The fate of the other 49 states hangs in the balance, though. The results of today’s contests will determine which of the two major political parties in this country will control the Senate.
Here’s what you need to know.
When will we know the outcomes of today’s runoffs?
The short answer is it’s anyone’s guess. Yes, that’s maddening, because there’s more drama going on here than on Bridgerton. The question really depends on how long it takes Georgia election officials to tally votes in the race that pits incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff, and in the contest between Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock. Loeffler replaced Johnny Isakson after he resigned due to health problems.
Why can’t they declare a winner today?
For starters, they don’t start to count votes until 7 p.m. ET, which is when the polls close. That’s also the deadline for receiving absentee ballots. And don’t forget about ballots sent from overseas or members of the military; those have to be postmarked by today and received by Friday.
OK, but can’t they get to work?
Yes and no. Election officials are prohibited from counting absentee ballots until the polls close for in-person voting.
Why wasn’t this resolved back in November?
None of the candidates received a majority of the votes, which is required under Georgia law. That triggered the runoff elections.
What’s the bottom line?
All of America will be watching Georgia regardless of how long it takes to get the results of the runoff elections. The Senate currently is made up of 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. If one or both of the GOP candidates win, the Republican have control. If the two Democrats win, the Senate will be evenly split. If that happens, the vice president—Democrat Kamala Harris, as of January 20—breaks the ties.