Runoff VS Recount

April 1, 2021
Featured Article Image

Runoffs & Recounts

Two words you’ll likely hear often in the days & weeks ahead…

What they mean

Why they matter


  • Election laws vary by state and also come into play in federal elections.
  • Runoff elections are triggered when no candidate receives a certain percentage of the vote. Percentage thresholds vary by state.
  • Recounts happen when the margin of victory between two candidates falls below a certain number or percentage. In states with recounts, they happen either automatically or by request.

Ex: GA Runoff Law

  • No winner has been declared in either of Georgia’s two Senate races, and both are headed for a runoff.
  • Under GA law, a candidate must receive more than 50% of votes to win. If not, the two candidates with the most votes face off again in a second election.
  • Runoff races will take place on January 5 — *after* the new Congress (House & Senate) is sworn in on January 3rd.

Ex: GA Recount Law

  • In Georgia, there are legal mechanisms in place for a recount at the request of a candidate or in case of potential error in paper ballot counts.
  • Three days after Election Day, the Georgia Secretary of State announced there will be recount of the pres. election votes, calling the results “too close to call.”
  • Recount results are expected by the end of November.


  • The outcome of the GA runoff races could shape the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Currently, the results indicate Republicans hold a majority in the incoming Senate. Remember: VP serves as the tiebreaker in the Senate.
  • The outcome of the GA recount could impact the presidential election. GA is one of the swing states where former VP Joe Biden is the projected winner (at last count, by approx. 10,000 votes).

FYI: Under federal law, different deadlines exist for receipt of ballots from citizens serving in the U.S. military or living overseas; many of these ballots have yet to be incorporated into the state counts currently reported. In Georgia, as of Friday nearly 9k votes cast by U.S. military personnel and those living abroad had yet to be counted.


Election 2020: Battleground States

VIDEO: The Electoral College

by Jenna Lee,