Voters in Georgia, United States, are voting for two-high stakes runoff races to the US Senate that are crucial for president-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic party. Over 4 million voters are likely to cast their ballots in this high stakes election.
As all eyes are on Georgia, the results for the elections are likely to come on Wednesday evening, India time. The results will determine the balance of power in the Senate, and could end up deciding the fate of a lot of Biden’s legislative agenda.
The election is being held only a few days after outgoing President Donald Trump made a phone call to the secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. During the phone call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” votes. Trump’s actions were harshly criticised, with Democrats and political experts calling for Trump being impeached again so that he cannot run in any election in the future.
Meanwhile, the president went on the campaign trail on Monday, a day ahead of the elections to show support for two Republican Senate candidates. Reuters reported that Trump warned of dire consequences if Democrats won the two contested seats and gained the majority in the US Senate. He told supporters “watch what happens” as he claimed victory.
While Trump has repeatedly claimed that voting was rigged in Georgia, Raffensperger has publicly called Trump’s statements to be untrue.
According to Al Jazeera, pre-poll surveys have shown the both the races are too close to call.
Why are these runoff elections being held?
In the US, run off elections are held when neither candidate is able to get 50 per cent of the votes. Which is what happened when Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue failed to get a majority during the US Presidential Elections in November. While Loeffler is pitted against Raphael Warnock, Perdue is running against Jon Ossoff.
A runoff is held between the top between the top two candidates with the most votes.
Why is this particular election crucial?
Biden winning the state, which usually leans towards Republicans, has given hopes for the Democratic candidates. If the Democrats manage to win both runoff elections, it will him and Kamala Harris more control over the US Senate. There will be a 50-50 division of the Senate between Democrats and Republicans with Harris serving as the tie-breaker for Democrats — which means she can break a tie of votes favouring particular legislations.
The Senate majority is crucial for Joe Biden’s government, which could otherwise see its key appointments, policy decisions and attempts to fulfil campaign promises hobbled by Republicans. The current Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, takes pride in calling himself the “Grim Reaper”, and had strangled several pieces of legislation pushed by the Barack Obama administration.