Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have surpassed the number of votes needed to avoid a recount in Georgia’s hard-fought Senate runoff elections, but the Republicans they’re replacing have yet to concede the election as absentee ballots continue to come in.
Ossoff led former Senator David Perdue, whose term ended Sunday, by 36,766 votes Thursday morning, or 50.4% to 49.6%. That’s outside the 0.5 percentage-point margin needed for Perdue to request a recount.
Warnock has an even bigger edge over his opponent, Senator Kelly Loeffler: 74,611 votes, or 50.8% to 49.2%.
While some mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, most of those come from predominantly Democratic counties and the secretary of state’s chief election official, Gabriel Sterling, says he doesn’t expect them to change the outcome. In addition, as many as 13,000 overseas and military ballots could arrive by Friday’s deadline, but slow mail service means they may never be counted.
Neither Republican has acknowledged defeat, but they also have yet to mount the kind of challenges to the Georgia count that President Donald Trump’s campaign did after the November general election.
Neither the Perdue nor Loeffler campaigns responded to requests for comment on Thursday about any plans to challenge the results.
The Perdue campaign called it “an exceptionally close election.” In astatement Tuesday night, the campaign said it would “mobilize every available resource and exhaust every legal recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”
Loeffler told supporters in Atlanta early Wednesday morning that she still had “a path to victory” and would make sure every vote is counted.
Later Wednesday, Loefflerdropped her challenge to the presidential election results during a congressional certification of the Electoral College results. But she said that the Senate must “turn our focus to protecting the integrity of our elections and restoring every American people’s faith that their voice and their vote matters.”
The deadline for Georgia to certify the results is Jan. 22, but it could happen earlier if all 159 counties complete their work before then. Candidates have two days after certification to request a recount.
The Senate doesn’t have to wait until the results are certified to swear in new members, but the Senate isn’t expected to have a working session until Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
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