Georgia’s election results were slow to come in Tuesday night as poll closures and virus restrictions complicated in-person voting and counties worked to process a huge increase in ballots received by mail.
Technical glitches, a lack of poll workers and high turnout contributed to long lines, prompting judges in numerous counties, including Atlanta’s Fulton County, to extend voting hours.
Among the key races was a contested Democratic primary for the nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue in November. Democrats included former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and former lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico.
Late Tuesday night, Ossoff had a clear lead, but it was unclear whether he would be able to receive a majority of the votes and stave off a runoff.
Perdue, a close Trump ally, is seeking a second term in November as Republicans look to hold the White House and a Senate majority. He drew no GOP primary opposition.
The race has proven to be anything but predictable, with the candidates forced to do most campaigning online because of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent days, the contest was shaped by widespread protests and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Criticism of the Trump administration’s response on both fronts has added fuel to Democrats’ ambitions of winning in Georgia, where Republicans dominate statewide elections, but Democrats are making gains.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of votes, the top two finishers will advance to an Aug. 11 runoff. Other Democrats in the race include former ACLU of Georgia head Maya Dillard Smith, Air Force veteran James Knox and Marckeith DeJesus.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday had predicted the winners may not be known for days.
“To get a good concept of where we are with the election — who won, who lost, or who’s in the runoff, things like that — I would think that could take upward of a couple days in some of these really tightly contested elections,” Raffensperger said.
Voters will also select party nominees for U.S. House races and for state House and Senate. Other state and local races are on the ballot as well.
More than 1.2 million Georgians voted early, Raffensperger said Monday. A majority of those ballots were cast absentee by mail after the Republican elections chief sent absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million active registered voters, hoping to ease pressure on in-person poll operations.