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Senator-elect Jon Ossoff secured a victory in the twin Georgia senatorial runoff elections late Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2021. His win, alongside Reverend Raphael Warnock’s, creates a Democrat dominant Senate for the first time since the 107th Congress — 2001-2003.
President-elect Joe Biden enters his first year with a trifecta; Democratic stronghold in the West Wing, Senate, and House of Representatives. The last time Democrats held the presidency and both chambers of Congress was during the first two years after Barack Obama was inaugurated, ending on Jan. 3, 2011.
With Ossoff’s victory, the Senate is technically split 50-50; two senators are Independents — Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont). This could result in some close, if not tied, votes.
America’s framers created a provision for breaking ties. The United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2 names the vice president the President of the Senate. They have no vote unless the votes are equally divided. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tiebreaker for the next four years.
All new members of the 117th Congress were sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021. However, Ossoff and Warnock we not since their election took place two days later.
Based on Georgia’s election laws, military and overseas ballots that arrive by Friday, January 8, must be counted. Rejected absentee ballots have until the 8th to be “cured.” Each county has until January 15 to certify their elections, and the state deadline for certification is the 22nd.
Another possible hiccup is the state’s election rules dictate races within a 0.5 percent margin are automatically subject to a recount. Neither contest met that standard.
Warnock secured 50.8 percent against his opponent Kelly Loeffler’s 49.2 percent — she conceded on January 7th. Ossoff won 50.4 percent over his opponent David Perdue with 49.6 percent. The latter has not conceded, and there is some speculation he will contest the election.
The Ossoff-Perdue vote totals will likely be affected when the military and overseas ballots are counted. If a recount is necessary, the Georgia Secretary of State has the authority to call for a recount.
UPDATE: On January 8th, Purdue concedes his loss to Ossoff, reports The Hill journalist, Max Greenwood.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Hill: Ossoff defeats Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff; by Max Greenwood
The Hill: Perdue concedes to Ossoff in Georgia; by Max Greenwood
CNBC: Congress confirms Biden election as president, morning after Trump-fueled mob invades Capitol; by DanMangan, Jacob Pramuk, and Kevin Breuninger
NPR: Jon Ossoff Wins Georgia Runoff, Handing Democrats Senate Control; by Alana Wise
Politifact: How will the Senate work under a 50-50 split? By Louis Jacobson
Savannah Morning News: When will Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock be sworn in?
Images Courtesy of John Ramspott’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License