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Georgia early voting: How big turnout could affect the Senate runoff count


President-elect Joe Biden will either have a Republican-led Senate working to block him or a (barely) Democratic-controlled Senate trying to help him out. And the races Tuesday will determine whether Republicans have the advantage or there’s a 50-50 split, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris giving Democrats the edge.

There’s plenty of reason to expect a repeat. Early voting, the counting of which helped drag out the presidential results, is nearly keeping track in these special runoffs. In Fulton County, the state’s most populous, the elections administrator said Monday that the early vote totals were larger for January than for November.

Republicans in the state have expressed concern that there may be a Democratic edge in the early vote totals. Which means that Republicans may need a strong showing on Election Day again.

That’s where President Donald Trump’s feud with Republican state officials over his own loss in the state could mean the difference in the GOP having a majority going forward.

CNN’s Ethan Cohen and Caroline Tounget looked at where the lead changed as the presidential votes in the state were counted during those 10 days:

At 7:16 p.m. on Election Night, when the first significant votes were reported, Biden jumped out to an early lead with almost 62% of the vote. Only 2% of the estimated vote had been reported.

The lead bounced back and forth for the next hour, but Trump pulled ahead at 8:07 p.m., with 10% reporting.

Early Wednesday morning Biden began to gain on Trump and finally overtook him at 4:48am on Friday, November 6, according to the vote count.

Biden ultimately won by a little less than 12,000 votes.

Actually, it was 11,779. Trump’s got that number burned on his brain since he specifically asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in their phone call this past weekend to “find” one more — 11,780 votes — just enough to win him the election.

While legal experts and constitutionalists are wondering if there’s criminal liability for Trump’s pressure on state officials to change results, the other end result of his war with Georgia officials from his party could be depressed turnout when the GOP needs it most.
Gabriel Sterling, the administrator of Georgia’s election systems, said at a news conference Monday that the best thing for people frustrated by the presidential results would be to vote Tuesday.

“If you’re a Georgia voter, if you want your values reflected by your elected officials, I strongly beg and encourage you: Go vote tomorrow. Do not let anybody discourage you. Do not self-suppress your own vote. Do not make a self-fulfilling prophecy out of doing this. Don’t let anybody steal your vote that way,” Sterling said. “That’s what’s happening if you self-suppress: You are taking away your important voice from this election.”

So much rests on the outcomes in Georgia

The economy. The size and scope of recovery efforts will be shaped by who controls the Senate. Democratic wins would likely mean more from the government, writes CNN’s Matt Egan.

“A sweep by Democrats would open the door to more powerful fiscal stimulus that the shaky economy may very well need. But it would also raise the risk of corporate tax hikes that investors despise.”

Biden’s ability to govern. His ability to get the people he wants in his Cabinet and in other key roles is entirely up to the Senate. One reason we don’t yet know his pick to be attorney general has got to be that Biden doesn’t know if it’s a Republican or Democratic majority who will be voting to confirm.

Congressional oversight and Biden. A Democratic majority will mean much less combative oversight, at least to start the Biden administration. It would also make Republican efforts to attack him over his son’s previous business dealings — Trump’s top offensive in 2020 — more difficult.

About that phone call

Since it became clear that Trump lost the election, he has been actively and openly trying to get state officials to ignore election results, a plan that was almost too brazen and anti-democratic to be believed.

What’s worse than openly trying to get around election results is quietly asking state officials to change them and “find” new votes two months after the election you lost. What Trump does behind closed doors, it turns out, is worse than what he does in the open.

I encourage you to read the transcript of Trump’s call with Georgia officials as well as the fact check of his claims. They make a few things very clear:
The President is laser-focused on getting around his election loss and staying in power. If you think Trump is quietly working behind the scenes on Covid, which is killing an American every 33 seconds, the transcript of this call should put you straight.

He has no interest in hearing anybody else talk. Despite the best efforts of Raffensperger, who was respectful of Trump but firm in dismissing his theories, the President dominated the conversation, and all but threatened Raffensperger and his deputy.

He learned nothing from impeachment. For those senators who defended Trump and said he’d learned his lesson and would no longer use his office to pressure people for political favors, this must be a bitter pill. That a year after he was fighting impeachment, Trump would pressure a state official for votes is proof the tiger does not shed its stripes.

Imagine all the calls we’ll never hear about and the pressure put on less scrupulous officials than those in Georgia.

Aside from fearing what Trump is capable of, this is also a moment to marvel at the strength of the US system, which so far has withstood all of his anti-democratic efforts. What’s not clear is if any law enforcement agency — the FBI or the Fulton County DA, will make a criminal case out of this. Note: Prosecutions of former presidents are possible but have not occurred in modern times. It would be divisive and time-consuming.

Trump’s first punishment will come January 20, when he has to move out of the White House.


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