The GA special election is being held today and the polls close at 7ET / 6CT / 5 MT / 4 PT.
The stakes are high for the election. Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News writes:
The stakes are clear, but the outcome is a tossup in Georgia’s twin Senate runoff elections Tuesday that will determine control of the Senate and the launch trajectory of President-Elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.
Both parties have pulled out all the stops in the monumental clash between Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Almost half a billion dollars has been spent on TV, radio and digital advertising since the November general election alone, easily making these the most expensive Senate races in history, and both Biden and outgoing President Donald Trump campaigned in the state Monday.
Many pollsters sat out the race as they take stock of misses in November, but experts and limited polling all point to close contests that will come down which party can do a better job turning out its voters.
“Georgia, the whole nation is looking to you,” Biden, the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state in decades, said at an Atlanta rally Monday.
What are some things to be looking for? The Atlanta Constitution-Journal suggests the following:
The polls are set to close at 7 p.m. ET on Election Day, and that’s when ballot counting can begin. Absentee ballots must be received by the close of polls to be counted. Military and overseas ballots postmarked by Tuesday and received by Friday will be counted, and absentee voters also have until Friday to fix any problems so their votes can be counted.
No ballots, including absentee ballots received in advance of Election Day, can be counted until the polls close. But a state election board rule requires county election officials to begin processing absentee ballots — verifying signatures on the outer envelope, opening the envelopes and scanning the ballots — before Election Day. That should speed things up on Election Night. Still, some absentee ballots received by mail or in drop boxes up until 7 p.m. on Election Day will still need to be processed.
WILL WE KNOW THE WINNER ON ELECTION NIGHT?
Just like in November, it’s possible Americans will go to bed without knowing who won. All indicators point to the likelihood of very tight margins in both races.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, often declare winners on Election Night based on the results that are in, voter surveys and other political data.
But in a close race, more of the vote may need to be counted before the AP can call a winner.
Additionally, folks will be looking at certain counties, and especially at African-American turnout. Targetsmart, a polling firm NBC News is partnering with to examine the early vote posted this tweet last night:
How have Dems built an advantage in the early vote? Historic turnout from African-American voters. They increased their share of the early vote by 2.9 pts relative to the general election. White college voters increase by 0.1 pts. Meanwhile, white non-college turnout has lagged. pic.twitter.com/pABIJ6Xhkn
— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) January 5, 2021
Politico reports that the Biden camp is skeptical of the Dems prevailing there.
Privately, Biden’s team does not expect to win the races, according to Democratic officials, but they are more optimistic about their chances than they were weeks ago. Though the president-elect narrowly won the state in November, they attribute that to a powerful anti-Trump sentiment that did not translate down the ballot. Perdue received about 88,000 more votes than Ossoff, and the top two Republicans combined got more than 636,000 votes than Warnock in the special election.
Makes one wonder what the internal polling for the campaigns looks like.
It's @GabrielSterling! 3,093,376 early in person+absentee votes cast before Election Day, as of latest update.
Columbia County issues – looks like the county didn't fully do Logic and Accuracy testing. Couple polls open will stay open mins later.
A Tift Co poll open until 7:40
— stephen fowler covers Georgia's election! (@stphnfwlr) January 5, 2021
AJC Runoff Election Results will be posted beginning at 7:30 p.m. NYT will be following it (based on the AP). MSNBC (who will bring out Steve Kornacki), CNN, and TYT also will have special coverage.
Let’s go Ossoff and Warnock!
Update: courtesy AP via NYT: