Over 1M Absentee Ballots Requested So Far for Georgia Senate Runoffs, 75% of State's November Election Total

More than 1 million absentee ballots have already been requested for Georgia's Senate runoffs next month, which is 75 percent of the total absentee ballots requested in the November 3 presidential election.

Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia election official, said at a news conference Monday that 1,037,172 absentee ballot applications have been put into the voter registration system. There are an additional 39,259 ballots that are on the dashboard for the online request process, bringing the total to 1,076,431.

According to Sterling, more than 43,000 absentee ballots have been returned and accepted by counties around the state.

Data from the secretary of state's office showed 628,505 of the current requests are from the rollover list, which includes people over the age of 65, the disabled and military voters who can check a box on their first absentee ballot application each year and have an absentee ballot sent to them automatically for every election in that year.

Georgia state law says that absentee ballots can be requested through the Friday before the election, which means registered voters can request their mail-in ballot up until January 1, 2021. The runoff election will take place on January 5.

For comparison, 1,303,749 absentee ballots were cast in the November 3 general election—which included the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden—and an additional 126,400 absentee ballots were requested but not cast.

All eyes are on Georgia as the state's two Senate runoffs will determine which party controls the upper chamber in the next Congress. Incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will face Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Republicans are poised to control at least 50 seats in the next Senate, based on election results, and Democrats will have 46 seats. Two independent senators caucus with the Democrats, bringing their total vote power to 48.

If Ossoff and Warnock both win their races, party control of the Senate would be split 50–50. Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would then be responsible for casting any tie-breaking votes.

Democrats are riding a blue wave in Georgia after flipping the state for the first time in 28 years. President-elect Joe Biden is the first Democratic nominee to win the state's 16 electoral votes since Bill Clinton did it in 1992. The state recertified results declaring Biden the winner on Monday after a recount was requested by the Trump campaign.

Last week, former President Barack Obama appeared at a virtual rally for Ossoff and Warnock. During the event, Obama stated the importance of the Georgia runoffs for the future of the Biden administration.

"You are now once again the center of our civic universe because the special election in Georgia is going to determine, ultimately, the course of the Biden presidency and whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can deliver legislatively all of the commitments they've made," Obama said.

georgia senate runoffs 1 million absentee requests
Family and supporters hold runoff signs as Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaks during an election night event on November 3 in Atlanta. Georgia will hold two Senate runoff elections on January 5, 2021. So far, the state has reported receiving more than 1 million absentee ballot requests for the contests. Jessica McGowan/Getty

Some Republicans have expressed concern that President Donald Trump's attacks on Georgia's handling of the 2020 general election could negatively impact the Senate contests. Trump has alleged, without evidence, that voter fraud and election irregularities are responsible for his loss in the state.

During a rally in Georgia on Saturday, Trump continued to air out his grievances with the state leadership.

"This election was rigged, and we can't let it happen to two of the greatest, most respected people in Washington," he said, referring to Loeffler and Perdue. "We can't let it happen again...Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing."

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger disputed the allegations on Monday, stating, "It's time we all focus on the future and growth. I know there are people that are convinced the election was fraught with problems but the evidence—the actual evidence, the facts—tell us a different story."

Raffensperger added, "We are working with the counties to ensure a fair, safe and secure election for January 5."

Update: This story has been updated to include new data from the Georgia secretary of state's office.