ATLANTA — UPDATE: Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are expected to be sworn in on Jan. 20, the same say as President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. Read more here.
Original story below.
Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have been projected to win their Senate races, an extraordinary sweep that has affirmed a remarkable shift in Georgia's political balance, and which will give President-elect Joe Biden an unexpected Senate majority to work with over the next four years.
But when do they actually become senators?
It basically depends on the pace at which Georgia certifies its election results.
It sounds obvious, but Warnock and Ossoff can't officially be senators until their election victories are, well, official. That could still take a week or two.
Here's the general outline, as provided by the Georgia Secretary of State's Office:
- Jan. 8: Deadline for military and overseas ballots to come in, as well as for voters who had to use provisional ballots to fix their issue (a process known as "curing" their ballot).
- Jan. 15: Deadline for counties to certify their results.
- Jan. 22: Deadline for state to certify its results.
There's some important notes to go over here, though: Counties can basically start certifying once the deadline passes on Friday, Jan. 8 for the military/overseas/provisional ballots. So while the deadline Jan. 15, it could be done by Monday or Tuesday, for all we know. Similarly, once the counties are done, the state will likely only take another day or two (perhaps even less) to certify.
There's at least a decent chance the results are certified before the end of next week, but - all it takes is one county to hold things up.
You'll recall the deadline to complete the official recount was Dec. 2, and most counties were finished and certified at least by the Friday that week, Dec. 4.
But Coffee County proved the lone holdout, over a dispute about the reliability of their results with the Secretary of State's Office, and Sec. Brad Raffensperger didn't wind up certifying the recount results until Monday, Dec. 7.
There's also one additional small thing to take note of: The results themselves, in the case of Ossoff's lead over Perdue. Right now, according to the official tally, it's a 0.82% lead. The cutoff for Perdue to be able to request a recount is 0.5%.
The reason we still have to call them projected victories is because, as noted above, there are still votes to be counted. Not a lot - as of Thursday the Secretary of State's Office said there were about 65,000 votes outstanding, and it appears most of them were counted.
But the counting in at least a few counties was interrupted by the events in Washington, and there's the matter of how many provisional ballots will be cured (one official, Gabriel Sterling, said they didn't have a count on provisional ballots yet yesterday, but estimated there would be fewer than 10,000) and how many military/overseas ballots will still come in.
It's highly unlikely Perdue could win these votes by the few thousand he would need to swing things 0.32% at this point, but we also don't know 100% until they're done and counted.
So, to sum it up: Georgia's election results will probably be certified sometime next week, and depending on when in the week that is they could probably be sworn in before the week is over. But there are variables, here.