By Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson and Caroline Linton

Updated on: January 5, 2021 / 3:35 PM
/ CBS NEWS

The party that controls the Senate will be decided by two runoff races underway in Georgia. Republicans will hold onto control of the chamber if they win one of the seats, but Democrats need to win both seats. 

Turnout has already set a record for a runoff election in the state, on the strength of early voting alone. Before voters hit the polls Tuesday, over 3 million ballots had already been cast in the runoffs. That includes approximately 2 million in-person and a million mail ballots.  

There’s always a dropoff in turnout between general elections and runoffs, but the pace of early voting in Georgia’s Senate runoffs has been tremendous and points to very high turnout, perhaps around 4 million total votes. In particular, Black voters have been outpacing other groups of voters.

Both parties are hoping to motivate their bases from the presidential election. Georgia was a critical state in the presidential election, and was narrowly won by Mr. Biden, a result that was affirmed again and again by an initial count and two additional recounts. 

Republican incumbent Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing well-funded Democratic opponents, Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. 

President Trump has zeroed in on the state in his fruitless effort to overturn the election results with baseless claims of fraud. In a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, audio of which was obtained by CBS News, Mr. Trump attempted to pressure Raffesnperger to “find” more than 11,000 votes so he could win the state. But even if he were able to do so, it would not be enough for him to change the outcome of the election.

“This is all easily, provably false. Yet, the president persists,” Sterling said, as he went one-by-one through the various unfounded allegations about Dominion Voting Systems and uncounted ballots. 

CBSN’s Elaine Quijano will be anchoring a special episode of “Red & Blue” starting at 5 p.m. CBSN will also start broadcasting live starting at 7 p.m. when polls close, with CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns reporting from Georgia. 

CBS News director of elections and surveys Anthony Salvanto will also appear throughout the evening, as will CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, CBS News chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, CBS News political correspondents Ed O’Keefe and Nikole Killion and CBS News political reporters LaCrai Mitchell and Adam Brewster.  

CBSN will also be speaking with local Georgia-based reporters as part of the “Local Matters” series. 

Voting is underway in Georgia for the runoff elections that will determine which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate. CBS News political correspondent Ed O’Keefe and CBS News political director Caitlin Conant joined CBSN with a look at what to expect.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that the election was “running smoothly,” contradicting President Trump, who has sought to sow doubt about the voting process. According to Raffensperger, the wait time at the polls is around one minute throughout the state.

“After wait times averaging just 2 minutes on November 3rd, Georgia’s election administration is hitting a new milestone for effectiveness and efficiency,” Raffensperger 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 statement continued that the only reported issues in Columbia County were resolved by 10 a.m., and voting did not stop. Mr. Trump falsely claimed that polling machines in certain areas were not working in a tweet on Tuesday.

“In Columbia County, a small number of the keys that start up the paper-ballot scanners were programmed incorrectly. 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 10 a.m.,” the statement said.

Turnout has already set a record for a runoff election in the state, on the strength of early voting alone. Before voters hit the polls Tuesday, over 3 million ballots had already been cast in the runoffs. That includes approximately 2 million in-person and a million mail ballots. 

Some 1.4 million mail ballots were requested, which includes over 350,000 that have not yet been returned. The vast majority of voters — over nine in 10 — are sticking with the way they voted in November, but we’re seeing a small shift from voting by mail in November to voting in person this time around.

There’s always a dropoff in turnout between general elections and runoffs, but the pace of early voting in Georgia’s Senate runoffs has been tremendous and points to very high turnout, perhaps around 4 million total votes. In particular, Black voters have been outpacing other groups of voters.

Taking a closer look at the demographics and vote history of early voters, both parties have reasons for optimism:

About a third are Black — up three points from November early voting, which favors Democrats.  

About a third are 65 or older— up six points from November early voting, which likely helps Republicans.

About three in 10 voted in the Democratic primary, while closer to two in 10 voted in the Republican primary.

Another reason for hope among Democrats is the over 100,000 early voters who didn’t vote in the general election. It’s a relatively small group — making up just 4% of all early runoff voters — but they’re disproportionately young (six in ten are under 40) and Black (about four in ten).

Republican parts of the state have been lagging in early voting, which is evident at the precinct level. While that has likely contributed to a vote deficit for the Republican candidates to make up, it also points to possible upside today, since there are plenty more potential voters out there. While about 16% of Election-Day voters voted early for the runoffs, there are still over 900,000 out there who voted on Election Day in the general and may choose to do so again.

Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, tweeted on Tuesday around noon that it had been a “smooth election so far.”

“We are at about an average of 1 minute wait times. The longest we are aware of is about 20 minutes. Get out and vote. It’s quick and easy,” Sterling tweeted. 

Smooth election so far this morning across Georgia. We are at about an average of 1 minute wait times. The longest we are aware of is about 20 minutes. Get out and vote. It’s quick and easy. #gapol pic.twitter.com/4sefazgK2U

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiT2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmNic25ld3MuY29tL2xpdmUtdXBkYXRlcy9nZW9yZ2lhLWVsZWN0aW9uLXJ1bm9mZi1zZW5hdGUtMjAyMS0wMS0wNS_SAVNodHRwczovL3d3dy5jYnNuZXdzLmNvbS9hbXAvbGl2ZS11cGRhdGVzL2dlb3JnaWEtZWxlY3Rpb24tcnVub2ZmLXNlbmF0ZS0yMDIxLTAxLTA1Lw?oc=5

News – Live updates: Georgia Senate runoff elections