Georgia – Georgia might see changes in its election process due to a new push to remove election runoffs.
This week, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, suggested scrapping runoff elections. The Republican official pointed out that these runoffs disrupted the holiday seasons in both 2020 and last year.
In Georgia, to win an election, a candidate must secure more than 50% of the votes. The current run-off system dates back to the Jim Crow era. White majorities first used it to prevent candidates of color from winning.
For example, Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory over Herschel Walker, a famous former football player, in the last U.S. Senate race required a six-week runoff to determine the winner.
Similarly, two years ago, Senate candidates Jon Ossoff, David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and Warnock had to go through an extended runoff period.
State Representative Saira Draper (D-Atlanta) argues that runoffs are ineffective because fewer people vote in them, making them a poor method for selecting candidates.
“I think the people of Georgia are absolutely exhausted. They want elected representation that is elected by the largest number of people, not a small fraction of people that happen to come out in a runoff. So there’s lots of reasons to want this bill,” Draper said Thursday.
Draper’s proposed legislation this year aims to change election rules. It suggests awarding victory to a candidate who gets at least 45 percent of the votes. If no candidate reaches this percentage, a runoff would be necessary.
There’s also another proposal being considered. This one involves an “automatic runoff” system for city elections. Voters would rank candidates in order of preference. The system would eliminate the candidates with the fewest votes and redistribute votes based on their higher preferences, resulting in a single winner. This method would only be used in cities that choose to adopt it, as per this bipartisan proposal from the House.
Recent statistics indicate that only about half of Georgia’s voters support keeping the current runoff system.
Additionally, voter data from 2020 revealed that around 9% of voters, nearly half a million, who voted in November did not participate in the two U.S. Senate runoff elections.