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Georgia 2022 Senate runoff live updates: Nearly 2 million have already voted

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Georgia voters are once again left with the final say in how Congress will look as the nation watches the Senate runoff race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Democrats have already secured the upper chamber’s majority with victories in other states, but that doesn’t mean nothing is at stake Tuesday.

For starters, Georgia’s special election will determine whether the chamber remains evenly split at 50-50, which proved to be a difficult tightrope for President Joe Biden and the Democrats.

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If Warnock wins, the 51-seat majority gives Senate Democrats control of committees and frees them from leaning on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes.

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But if Walker prevails that keeps the pressure on Democrats to remain united.

It also gives their caucuses moderate to conservative-leaning senators more power in terms of close judicial nominations or other important administrative confirmations.

Here’s the latest:

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From toss-up to leans Democratic

Polls continue to show Warnock and Walker locked in a tight race that could go either way, but some political forecasters are giving the Democrats an edge.

The Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia, a newsletter that analyzes campaigns, moved Georgia from a “toss-up” to “leans Democratic” state on Monday.

GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 04: Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) speaks during a Meet and Greet event at St. John Baptist Church December 4, 2022 in Gainesville, Georgia. Sen. Warnock continues to campaign throughout Georgia for the runoff election on December 6 against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 04: Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) speaks during a Meet and Greet event at St. John Baptist Church December 4, 2022 in Gainesville, Georgia. Sen. Warnock continues to campaign throughout Georgia for the runoff election on December 6 against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

It noted that Georgia remains a competitive state, but that “most indicators point to a Warnock advantage” including the early voting data and that Democrats are heavily outspending Republicans.

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“If Warnock ends up winning… we can all agree on one thing: He will have certainly earned a full term. Over the span of 2 years, Warnock ran a gauntlet of 4 high-stakes races,” J. Miles Coleman, an associate editor of the newsletter, said.

— Phillip M. Bailey

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Saturday voting and runoff timeframe

Georgia was embroiled in one of the more controversial voting rights battles the Republican-controlled state legislature changed the election rules in early 2021.

Among the biggest changes that had an impact on the Dec. 6 special election under the measure, known as SB 202, was shortening the runoff election from nine weeks to four weeks, and cutting early voting from 17 days to five.

Another fight created by the new law was over Saturday voting.

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Initially, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office suggested Georgia counties had the option to provide Saturday voting on Nov. 26.

But later the office said there would be no Saturday voting, citing its interpretation of SB 202, which prevents early in-person voting being held on any Saturday that comes after a holiday on a Thursday or Friday.

Democrats, including the Warnock campaign, pounced on Raffensperger’s office and quickly filed suit against the decision. A judge, and eventually an appeals court, ruled against the GOP in court and allowed voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

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— Phillip M. Bailey

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Nearly 2 million have already voted

Over the past two years Georgia voters have had a marathon of contests – the 2020 presidential election, two separate 2021 Senate runoff contests and the 2022 midterms.

But if the early voting numbers are any indication the Peach State is just as engaged for the Dec. 6 runoff as any other contest.

According to the secretary of state’s office, more than 1.8 million Georgians have already voted.

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People gather during a get out the vote rally Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta, during early voting for the Senate runoff election.

People gather during a get out the vote rally Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta, during early voting for the Senate runoff election.

Last Friday, the last day for early voting, more than 350,000 Georgians cast a ballot, shattering the one-day record for early voting.

“Georgia is a national leader in voter access and security,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.

“We are having historic levels of turnout and those who want to vote are voting- we believe this level of voter participation is excellent, and we’ll keep working with counties to encourage them to open more early voting locations in the future.”

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— Phillip M. Bailey

Polls opened at 7 a.m.

Polling places in Georgia’s 159 counties opened at 7 a.m. for the Dec. 6 runoff, and will close at 7:00 p.m.

As in most state, if a person is line by 7:00 p.m., they are allowed to cast your ballot.

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— Phillip M. Bailey

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Georgia 2022 Senate runoff live updates: Nearly 2M have already voted

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