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What is a runoff election? Let's break down what's happening in Georgia

Sen. Raphael Warnock's election night party in Atlanta, Nov. 8, 2022. The race between Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker is too close to call and will go to a runoff election in December.
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Sen. Raphael Warnock's election night party in Atlanta, Nov. 8, 2022. The race between Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker is too close to call and will go to a runoff election in December.

Follow live updates and results from the 2022 midterm election here.

The U.S. Senate race in Georgia is heading to a runoff election, where Democrat Raphael Warnock will face Republican Herschel Walker for a second time.

On top of this race being exceptionally close, Georgia is also one of only two U.S. states with a runoff for both primary and general elections.

This means that under Georgia election law, if no candidate obtains over 50% of the vote, a runoff is triggered, and the top two candidates will face off again in a new election held four weeks after Election Day.

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In this case, Warnock and Walker's runoff election will take place on Dec. 6. There is no required threshold to win in that race.

The December election will mark the second time that Warnock's bid for the Senate has gone to a runoff. Two years ago, he defeated then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, in a runoff race.

The predecessor of Georgia's runoff election was adopted after the Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved people in Southern states. Runoffs were seen as additional roadblocks for Black people to vote, according to the U.S. Vote Foundation, which characterizes the practice as having "Jim Crow roots."

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Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.
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