Raffensperger calling for an end to general election runoffs

Republican secretary of state wants General Assembly to consider reforms
Brad Raffensperger
Brad Raffensperger(WRDW)
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 8:52 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 11:17 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is calling on the Georgia General Assembly to eliminate general election runoffs in the state.

“Georgia is one of the only states in the country with a general election runoff,” said Raffensperger, who easily won re-election without a runoff in last month’s midterms. “We’re also one of the only states that always seems to have a runoff. I’m calling on the General Assembly to visit the topic of the general election Runoff and consider reforms.”

The GOP-controlled General Assembly convenes in January and could select from a wide range of options, he said.

“No one wants to be dealing with politics in the middle of their family holiday,” said Raffensperger. “It’s even tougher on the counties who had a difficult time completing all of their deadlines, an election audit and executing a runoff in a four-week time period.”

Georgia’s 2022 midterms shattered previous turnout records despite repeated claims from Democrats the state’s new election laws disenfranchise minority voters.

At least one Democratic lawmakers wants future general election runoffs to be extended. State Rep. Jasmine Clark (D-Lilburn) plans to introduce legislation to extend runoffs from four to six weeks.

RELATED: Election results for Georgia Runoff | Dec. 6, 2022

Clark said an extra week would help ease some of the long lines many polling places experienced during the Senate runoff.

Clark said she’s planning on introducing a bill that, if passed, would for a work group to study the potential of a ranked-ballot system.

Essentially a ranked-choice option, which other states have implemented, asks voters to rank their preferred candidate in the case of a runoff on their general election ballot.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released a statement on Wednesday, which called on the General Assembly to eliminate runoffs in the state to ensure a safe and secure election.

“It’s even tougher on the counties who had a difficult time completing all of their deadlines, an election audit, and executing a runoff in a four-week time period,” wrote Raffensperger.

James Beverly, Georgia House minority leader, said runoffs are a financial burden. He’s in favor of lowering the voting threshold for a candidate to win, from 50% to 45%. He also wants to consider rank-choice voting.

“Runoffs cost a bunch of money 10 million bucks, 10 million bucks? Come on,” said Beverly.

Political analyst Bill Crane says hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to convince Georgia voters to head back to the polls 4 weeks after submitting their ballot.

“There’s not a lot of movement among voters. It’s not like you vote one way, in a general election in a different way. In the runoff, it’s really about turnout. when a party politically comes into power, by whatever set of rules wins an election by the current set of rules. There’s a real reluctance to change those rules,” said Crane.

The Republican majority in the House and Senate means measures to change Georgia voting law will likely fail without the support of several members of the Republican party.