Raffensperger calls on Georgia to end runoff elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is calling on legislators to do away with the state’s runoff system for general elections, arguing that the process places too heavy a burden on voters and election officials. 

“Georgia is one of the only states in [the] country with a General Election Runoff,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re also one of the only states that always seems to have a runoff. I’m calling on the General Assembly to visit the topic of the General Election Runoff and consider reforms.”

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His comments came just over a week after Georgia held its second Senate runoff election in less than two years. That race saw Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) defeat Republican Herschel Walker, adding one more seat to Democrats’ Senate majority. 

State law currently requires a candidate to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in a general election to win outright. If no candidate hits that threshold, the race heads to a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

It’s a relatively unusual system. Only one other state, Louisiana, requires runoffs when no candidate receives a majority of the vote. In most other states, candidates only needs to win a plurality of the vote to clinch victory, while Maine and Alaska rely on ranked-choice voting to decide elections.

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Georgia’s runoff election system became even more demanding under a new law put into place last year that significantly shortened the runoff period from nine weeks to just four weeks — a time frame that ran through the Thanksgiving holiday season. 

In his statement, Raffensperger said that the state’s general election runoff system was simply too demanding and put undue pressure on county officials and voters, especially during the holidays.

“No one wants to be dealing with politics in the middle of their family holiday,” he said. “It’s even tougher on the counties who had a difficult time completing all of their deadlines, an election audit and executing a runoff in a four-week time period.”

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