ATLANTA — It was a midterm election for the history books, but it's not over for Georgia's Senate candidates.
Neither Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock nor Herschel Walker cleared the 50% + 1 threshold to earn a seat in the U.S. Senate. This means Georgia voters will have to head to the polls once again to sound off who they want to represent them in the nation's capital.
As Republicans and Democrats try to convince voters to head back to the polls for the Dec. 6 Election Day, some are wondering if they can register in time for the runoff race.
Can I register to vote before Georgia's Senate runoff election?
Georgia's Election Integrity Law 2021 (SB202)
Georgia's Secretary of State Office's Voter Guide
Andra Gillespie, Emory University Associate Professor of Political Science
No, not under Georgia's Election Integrity Act of 2021 - more commonly known as SB202.
WHAT WE FOUND
Georgia currently has 6,953,485 registered voters - and it will stay that way, at least for the runoff.
This is because of the state's newest election law, SB202, outlines the timeline for runoff elections and the time span voters can register before an election.
Gov. Kemp signed the Election Integrity Act of 2021 into law last March. The legislation deems that runoff elections must be held on the 28th day after a general or special primary election. This means instead of the previous nine weeks, voters will have four weeks to cast a ballot in a runoff election. Under this timeline, it marks Georgia's Senate runoff for Dec. 6 on the election calendar.
SB202 also outlines that a voter must register 30 days before an election. This leaves a two-day gap between voter registration and when a runoff must be scheduled -- which means no new voters can be registered in the period before the runoff.
"So basically, anybody who is already registered to vote is going to be eligible to vote in the next election so as long as you were registered to vote by Election Day," 11Alive political analyst and Emory University associate professor Andra Gillespie said. "So anybody who was registering to vote now would not be eligible to vote in the runoff election."
Under Georgia's election law, the voter registration deadline would be the day before the earlier election that triggered the runoff. According to the Secretary of State's Office, the last day to register to vote in Georgia's general election was Nov. 7, a day before Election Day.
In this case, it means Warnock and Walker will have to appeal to voters who may have not turned out to the ballot box in the first place and really hone in on their supporters, Gillespie added.
"So suffice to say, there is already a ready-made pool of registered nonvoters in the midterm election who could still be mobilized to be able to vote for both the Democrats and the Republicans on Dec. 6," she said. "And so I expect that both parties are going to be looking at that data and targeting the most likely of those nonvoters to get them to come out to vote for them on Dec. 6."
Data from the Secretary of State's Office shows that a little more than half of the state's registered voters cast their ballot during Georgia's midterm election.
That leaves about 2,995,250 registered voters for two candidates to court and convince to show out in the runoff.