Georgia election: Democrats on course for Senate control

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The Democratic Party of US President-elect Joe Biden is on the verge of taking control of the Senate as results come in from two elections in Georgia.

Pastor Raphael Warnock is projected to win one seat. Fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff leads narrowly in the other.

If they both win, Mr Biden will have a much better chance of pushing through his legislative agenda.

The election is being rerun because of Georgia’s rule that a candidate must take 50% of the vote in order to win.

None of the candidates in November’s general election met that threshold.

With 98% of votes counted, US TV networks and the Associated Press news agency called the first of the two races for Mr Warnock.

Control of the Senate in the first two years of Mr Biden’s term will be determined by the outcome of the second run-off.

Mr Warnock is set to become the first black senator for the state of Georgia – a slavery state in the US Civil War – and only the 11th black senator in US history.

Claiming victory, he paid tribute to his mother, Verlene, who as a teenager worked as a farm labourer.

“The other day – because this is America – the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said.

Although the Democrats would need to take both seats to gain full control of Congress, the Republican party of outgoing President Donald Trump only needs to win one in order to retain the Senate.

Mr Ossoff has also claimed victory in his race against Republican Senator David Perdue, but that race is even tighter.

When will we get a result?

Final results are expected by 12:00 on Wednesday, Georgia time (17:00 GMT).

The margins are extremely tight. Mr Warnock is projected to have won his race by 50.6% to 49.4% for incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler.

Edison Research, which supplies election results to news organisations including the BBC, says Mr Ossoff is leading by 50.2%, to 49.8% for Mr Perdue.

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More than 98% of ballots from Georgia’s 159 counties have now been counted. The remaining votes come from the Atlanta suburbs, which are projected to go heavily for the Democrats.

More than three million voters – about 40% of those registered in Georgia – voted before Tuesday. Early voting benefited Mr Biden in November’s White House election.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump – whose unsubstantiated claims that he was the victim of electoral fraud left Republican strategists worried about turnout in Tuesday’s Senate run-offs – continued to cast aspersions on the integrity of the vote in Georgia.

On Saturday, Mr Trump pushed Georgia’s top election official Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn Mr Biden’s presidential election win in the state.

BBC

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