Georgia Senate Runoffs Expect to See Record Number of Poll Watchers

When Georgia voters head to the polls on Tuesday, thousands will be watching—as both parties have indicated that they'll have beefed-up poll watching operations as President Donald Trump continues to challenge the state's election operations, without evidence, from November.

Georgia Republicans have recruited more than 8,000 people to be election day poll watchers, according to information from Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. The state GOP didn't immediately respond to Newsweek's request for more details.

Perdue and Loeffler are facing challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, on the ballot.

Maggie Chambers, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Democratic Party, told Newsweek the party has a standing policy against sharing poll watcher figures but said its numbers will also be strong.

"We've had a strong voter protection program," she said. "We are fully staffed and set to have poll watchers across the state."

More than 3 million Georgia voters have already cast ballots in the runoff races, which are expected to draw record-setting turnout.

Both Trump and President-elect Joe Biden were campaigning in Georgia on Monday in the rare dual January Senate races. The outcome will ultimately decide which party controls the U.S. Senate in the term that started Sunday. The elections happen to come in a state that went to Biden in the fall, prompting Trump to make claims, without evidence, that he lost because of fraud and other mismanagement of the election. Georgia officials, including top Republicans in the state, have pushed back against the allegations.

The election follows the release of a lengthy call between Trump and Georgia's secretary of state, during which Trump floated several baseless conspiracy theories about why he narrowly lost the election in Georgia. Congress meets Wednesday to certify the results, which several Republicans have said they will challenge—forcing hearings in the U.S. House and Senate, where the election outcome will be debated.

Trump has argued that Georgia poll workers mishandled ballots or intentionally sought to skew the results to Biden. The claims have spurred intense interest in the election process this week, and Trump has encouraged people to volunteer to be poll watchers. Poll watchers can observe elections but cannot interfere with or intimidate voters.

A top election official in Georgia told reporters on Monday that he's "begging" voters to maintain confidence in the election amid allegations of misdeeds lobbed by Trump and his allies.

"Do not let anybody discourage you. Don't suppress your own vote," Gabriel Sterling, a Republican official who manages Georgia's voting system, said during a press briefing. "Don't let anybody steal your vote that way."

georgia voting
Early voters stand in line at the State Farm Arena on December 14, in Atlanta. More than 3 million Georgia voters have already cast ballots in the Senate runoff. Megan Varner/Getty