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Georgia Is Headed For A Runoff — But Will Voters Go Back To The Polls?

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Georgia Is Headed For A Runoff — But Will Voters Go Back To The Polls?
Some elections in Georgia are far from over, but experts are worried voters won't turn out for the runoffs.
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Voting issues were a major theme of Georgia's contentious midterms — and some races are still far from over. 

As the state heads into runoff elections, some voting rights advocates worry the issues from Nov. 6 will discourage voters from coming back to the polls.

"Worst case scenario is that people feel disenfranchised because of this debacle that was our elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and they don't show up for the runoff ... That's a travesty. We are so afraid that people are not going to show up on Dec. 4 for this runoff, due to the fact that there were so many issues on election day. We're predicting like a less than ten percent turnout."

Sara Henderson is the Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, the non-partisan voting rights organization that sued former Sec. of State Brian Kemp for failing to maintain a reliable voter registration system.

The courts sided with Common Cause a week after the midterms, ordering a thorough review of all provisional ballots cast and extending the deadline to finalize election results by four days. 

That order affected the call for Georgia's high-stakes gubernatorial race, but Henderson says the race for governor wasn't the motivator for Common Cause's lawsuit.

"We've got many down ballot races across the state that are within two to three hundred votes. These provisional ballots, while they may not help the gubernatorial, we have four amendments on the ballot, we have DA's offices, state legislative races, all sorts of things down ballot, and to me that's much more concerning than gubernatorial candidates collecting more votes."

Amid the mess of election issues and lawsuits is the position that could change it all: Secretary of State.

That race for Kemp's former seat is between Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow, and it's heading to a runoff on Dec. 4. Raffensberger had a razor-thin lead of about 24,000 votes, but both candidates will likely face difficulties getting people back to the polls.

"I can't tell you how many hundreds of calls we got on election day from first time voters that said, 'Y'know, to heck with this. I got turned away. I don't have time to this. I gotta go to work. I can't drive to another precinct. I can't go home and get more ID. Y'know, blah, blah, blah, I'm never coming back again.' And that's to me is the travesty in the situation."