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Early ballot counting in Georgia will be mandatory ahead of Jan. 5 Senate runoffs

New policy reflects a change from the state's controversial Nov. 3 election process.

Updated: December 28, 2020 - 1:00pm

Counties in Georgia will be allowed to begin tallying absentee and mail-in ballots prior to the Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, according to a spokesperson from the Georgia Secretary of State's office. This policy reflects a change from the controversial Nov. 3 election process.

Counties will be permitted to begin their ballot count two weeks ahead of the election, and will be required to start their count by Dec. 30. The goal of the policy is faster election results on Jan. 5. In November, the Georgia vote took days to tally before the state was prepared to announce unofficial results.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has stood by the Nov. 3 election process in his state, despite criticism from members of his own party as well as Democrats. However, this time around he is advocating that the state stop allowing no-excuse absentee balloting. 

"It makes no sense when we have three weeks of in-person early voting available," said Raffensperger on Dec. 23.

At present, anyone who wants to vote by mail is able to do so by applying for an absentee ballot.

Senate GOP incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are competing in tight races against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively. Democrats will need to win both seats in order to attain a 50-seat hold on the senate, with Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaking vote. Republicans just need to win one of the two seats to ensure a slim GOP majority.