Vote-Counting Starts in US Senate Runoff Elections in Georgia

Polls closed and vote-counting started Tuesday night in two pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections in the southern state of Georgia that will determine political control in the Senate during the first two years of President-elect Joe Biden’s term in the White House. Republican Senator David Perdue faced a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff, a television documentary producer, while Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, one of the wealthiest lawmakers in Congress, was opposed by the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Baptist minister. Pre-election polls showed tight contests, with the Democrats holding slight leads. At the moment, Republicans control the 100-seat Senate with a 50-48 advantage, needing to win one of the two Georgia contests to maintain their advantage and act as a bulwark against Biden’s legislative proposals after he is inaugurated January 20. Victories for Ossoff and Warnock would give Democrats a 50-50 split with Republicans and a chance for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will be able to preside over Senate proceedings when she chooses, to cast tie-breaking votes in the Democrats’ favor. WATCH: VOA Reports from GeorgiaSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 4 MB480p | 5 MB540p | 7 MB720p | 11 MB1080p | 24 MBOriginal | 33 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioWith Democratic control, Biden would likely offer more sweeping proposals to bolster health care in the U.S., tighten environmental controls that were eased during the four-year tenure of President Donald Trump and try to make it easier for immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship. Conversely, Republican control of the Senate would make Biden’s political life more difficult and likely force protracted negotiations between his administration and Republican lawmakers on contentious issues. The controlling party in the chamber also sets the legislative calendar determining which issues are voted on, and would hold a majority on each of the Senate’s issue-specific committees where potential laws are first considered. The Perdue-Ossoff and Loeffler-Warnock contests were made necessary because none of the four candidates won a majority in the first round of voting in November. Voter turnout was robust on Tuesday, with long lines of voters snaking into polling places, and came after nearly 3.1 million people voted before the official Election Day. Five million votes were cast in Georgia in the November balloting that included Biden’s race against Trump. The overall vote count in U.S. runoff elections usually lags behind general elections, but about 100,000 people who did not vote in November in Georgia cast ballots in the Senate runoffs even before the official Election Day. Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Fraud allegations Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that he was defrauded out of winning the state, pleading in an extraordinary phone call last weekend with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find him 11,780 more votes – enough to upend the Biden win by a single vote. But Raffensperger, a Republican, rebuffed Trump, saying Trump was “just plain wrong” in contending he was cheated out of a victory in the state.  Loeffler said she would support Trump’s challenge to Biden’s victory in Georgia when a joint session of Congress meets Wednesday to certify Biden’s 306-232 victory in the Electoral College, which determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections rather than the national popular vote. Election Day exit polls conducted by Edison Research showed that about seven in 10 Georgia voters were confident that the votes in Tuesday’s runoff elections would be counted accurately. Democrats were far more confident than Republicans. The polling showed that more than nine in 10 Democrats said they were at least somewhat confident of an accurate vote count, Edison reported, compared with about half of Republicans and seven in 10 independents. Even with the possible edge Democrats might have piled up in the early voting in Georgia, Republicans said they expected to do much better with in-person voting on Tuesday. That was the scenario that played out in November in Georgia and across the country when substantially more Democrats voted early, while more Republicans voted in person on the actual Election Day. Because the advance votes take longer to count, Trump appeared to be ahead in Georgia on election night before Biden pulled ahead and won the state. An initial vote count and two recounts confirmed Biden’s narrow edge in the state. Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 4 MB480p | 6 MB540p | 7 MB720p | 14 MB1080p | 32 MBOriginal | 46 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioMonday ralliesBoth Biden and Trump held rallies Monday in Georgia in a final attempt to persuade voters. “The power is literally in your hands,” Biden said. “Unlike any time in my career, one state, one state, can chart the course, not just for the next four years, but for the next generation.” He said Georgians had voted in record numbers in the presidential election in November. “Now, we need you to vote again in record numbers,” he said. Trump campaigned Monday in a heavily Republican enclave in Dalton in the northern part of the state, telling supporters the election could be their “last chance to save the America that we love.” “The far left wants to destroy our country, demolish our history and erase everything that we hold dear,” Trump said. “This could be the most important vote you will ever cast for the rest of your life.” 

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