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Georgia in flux: Two Senate races head to runoff; presidential race will have a recount

Nicholas Wu
USA TODAY

Georgia is about to be ground zero for the battle for the Senate.

Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff are headed to a runoff election in January after neither earned 50% of the vote.

The state's other Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, also is headed to a runoff. 

The two races will likely determine what party controls the majority in the Senate. 

The presidential race in Georgia also is up in the air.

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Voters line up for early voting at a Fulton County mobile voting station Monday morning, Oct. 12, 2020 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Southwest Atlanta. Monday was the first day of early voting, and the first time the county's new mobile voting stations were used.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said Friday morning the state would have a recount because of the slim election margin.

“Right now, Georgia remains too close to call,” he said. “There will be a recount.”

Under Georgia state law, candidates can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5%. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gained a small lead over President Donald Trump early Friday morning. About 4,400 votes separate the two candidates. 

“We are literally looking at a margin of less than a large high school,” said Georgia’s voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling.

The state had about 4,169 votes left to count, according to Sterling. A recount could take until the end of the month, he noted. The state pays for recounts in Georgia.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger attends a conference of local election officials in Savannah, Ga., Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Raffensperger told about 700 local officials who are preparing to rollout new voting machines statewide to expect more than 1 million additional voters at the polls in 2020 compared to the last presidential election in 2016.

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Trump and his allies, without evidence, have alleged election fraud, but Sterling rejected the claims.

“We’re not seeing any widespread irregularities,” he said.