Five things to know as you head to the polls in Tuesday’s Georgia primary runoffs
Georgia voters will likely see few lines for Tuesday’s midterm primary runoff election featuring statewide offices and U.S. House races. John McCosh/Georgia Recorder (file)
On Tuesday, Georgia voters will choose party nominees in runoffs for a host of statewide, congressional and other races ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
The Democratic runoffs will decide the party’s nominees for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and Congress, while the Republican runoffs feature a pair of U.S. House candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump pitted against candidates who received more votes in the May 24 primary.
Polls are set to be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and absentee ballots can be dropped off at the county registrar’s office until polls close. Voters can check their precinct information on the state’s “My Voter Page” before heading to the polls, although some voter rights groups are advising people to contact the county’s elections office after problems with inaccurate precinct information for the May primary. Gwinnett County changed a few polling locations as recently as Monday.
During the week-long early voting period that ended Friday, 138,000 Georgians cast ballots, much lower than the record turnout last month.
Due to the state’s 2021 voting law, the time between a general election and runoff was reduced, shrinking the window for early voting from three weeks to one week.
Below is a list of five things to watch out for in the runoffs that will decide who you’ll see on the Georgia ballot in November.
Voters can’t switch party preference in runoff
For primaries Georgia voters can select Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballots since the state doesn’t register voters by political party.
But the freedom doesn’t mean voters can then again take their pick of party ballots for runoffs.
That’s of particular significance to the estimated 67,000 Georgians who voted in the May 24 Republican Primary after voting as Democrats in the previous primary election.
A number of those voters likely voted for their least worrisome Republican candidate in order to avoid a worst-case scenario should the Democrat’s candidate lose in November.
The party switch could have resulted in enough votes to secure an outright GOP primary win for Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger over Trump-endorsed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.
The Democratic crossover voters prompted some GOP officials to advocate for restricting primaries to voting by party members.
Expect short waits at the polls
On May 24th, there were a few technical snafus and other problems that caused some precincts to remain open past 7 p.m. after delays in getting the polling location open.
By the end of Election Day, though, a majority of Georgians spent little to no time in line to vote.
With fewer candidates on the ballot, runoff elections tend to draw far fewer voters, as will likely be the case on Tuesday. That means voters shouldn’t have to spend much time casting their ballots.
Voters must vote in their precinct since under the new law provisional ballots will not be counted unless they are cast after 5 p.m. and accompanied by a signed statement explaining why they cannot make it to the polls in time.
Democrats vying to upend statewide GOP control
Four Democrats will emerge victorious in Tuesday’s runoff with tough general election challenges ahead in trying for rare statewide elections for their party.
But after Democrats won two U.S. Senate races in 2020, their chances of winning other statewide races are deemed the highest since Georgia turned red two decades ago.
The closely watched secretary of state’s race will have a new Democratic challenger as Atlanta state Rep. Bee Nguyen faces former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler.
The Democratic nominee will take on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the role that oversees a state election system that has come under intense scrutiny since 2020’s presidential election. The Republican incumbent is due to testify Tuesday before the U.S. House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. He has already testified before a Fulton County special grand jury examining a January 2021 phone call Trump made to demand Raffensperger “find” enough votes to overturn the former president’s Georgia loss.
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In 2023, a new lieutenant governor will lead the Senate as the second highest elected official in state government, replacing Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who declined to run for re-election.
Republican candidate state Sen. Burt Jones, who has been endorsed by Trump, faces the winner of the Democratic primary pitting former Atlanta City Councilman and U.S. Rep. Kwanza Hall against former prosecutor Charlie Bailey.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic runoff for labor commissioner, grassroots organizer Nicole Horn will face East Point state Rep. William Boddie, with the winner facing Republican state Sen. Bruce Thompson in November.
Janice Laws Robinson and Raphael Baker round out the remaining statewide Democratic candidates, both seeking to defeat GOP Insurance Commissioner John King.
Redistricting factors into Congressional race
GOP-drawn congressional district maps are expected to deliver a victory to the GOP in Atlanta’s suburban 6th congressional district, where voters will pick between former Marine and ER doctor Rich McCormick and lawyer and former state ethics commission chairman Jake Evans.
The district’s current representative, Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath, defeated Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the neighboring 7th District Democratic primary after Republicans redrew McBath’s current district to favor a GOP candidate.
Evans or McCormick will attempt to defeat Democratic nominee Bob Christian in November.
High profile GOP congressional runoff
The runoffs feature another high-profile Congressional Republican battle for a district that spans from northeast of Atlanta to outside of Augusta.
Former Democrat and Georgia state representative turned Trump supporter Vernon Jones is facing business owner and Gov. Brian Kemp-endorsed Mike Collins for the Republican nomination representing U.S. House District 10.
Jones and Collins have traded personal jabs as they try to outdo each other on who has the best Republican bona fides as they seek to replace the ultra-conservative former U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who lost the May 24 GOP primary for secretary of state.
Jones stepped into the national spotlight in 2020 as an outspoken supporter of Trump and the lifelong Democrat became a Republican darling among the Trump faithful after the former president demanded Kemp resign for refusing to overturn his narrow 2020 Georgia election loss to President Joe Biden.
On May 24, Collins, a trucking executive and son of former Georgia U.S. Rep. Mac Collins edged Jones by 26% to Jones’ 22% of votes.
That district’s runoff also features Sandersville nurse Tabitha Johnson-Green against Athen’s Jessica Allison Fore seeking to emerge as the Democratic candidate.
The winner of the Nov. 8 general election faces a tall task in a Republican stronghold where Hice defeated Johnson-Green by double digit percentages in 2018 and 2020.
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