Uganda elections 2021: Bobi Wine takes on Yoweri Museveni


image copyrightReuters

image captionIt was not always possible to maintain social distance in the voter queues

The internet is blocked and security has been stepped up in Uganda as counting gets under way after polls closed in a hotly contested election.

A 38-year-old singer is challenging Yoweri Museveni, 76, in one of the world’s youngest countries.

Robert Kyagulanyi, known by his stage name Bobi Wine, says he represents the younger generation, while Mr Museveni says he is standing for stability.

Dozens of people have been killed in the run-up to the election.

  • Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories

  • The pop star, the president and a Covid crackdown
  • Why 35 years in power isn’t enough for this man
  • The ‘ghetto president’ aiming for the real thing

What is the latest?

Polls closed at 16:00 local time (13:00 GMT) but remain open for those still queuing at the time.

image copyrightReuters
image captionSome voters have stayed to watch the count

Some polling stations did not open for close to two hours and voters in the queue had grown angry and had started shouting at the polling gate officials as the cause of the delay was not clear, the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire reports from the capital, Kampala.

As vote counting began, lorries carrying soldiers drove through the city and police and local defence units were also seen patrolling, she says.

The police had earlier said they intended to deploy officers on rooftops of Kampala during the election period, saying that opposition activists commanded protests from high-rise building in November, when more than 50 people were killed after Bobi Wine was arrested.

Earlier this week, dressed in military fatigues Mr Museveni gave a stark warning during a televised speech: “If you try to disturb peace, you will have yourself to blame. The security forces, following the law, are ready to deal with any troublemaker.”

Results are not expected before Saturday.

What is the extent of the shutdown?

As well as being unable to get online, people are even having trouble sending text messages.

Earlier in the week the authorities ordered the blocking of social media, messaging apps and certain sites for virtual private networks (VPNs) which people use to get around social media blocks.

The Ugandan authorities appear to have ordered internet providers to shut down the whole internet at 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT) on the eve of the election, according to a letter shared by journalist Samira Sawlani .

In the letter, which we have not verified, the Uganda Communications Commission orders internet providers to “implement a temporary suspension of the operation of all your internet gateways and associated access points”.

While it said the order was temporary, the letter did not state when the suspension should end.

The internet access advocacy group Access Now has urged telecoms providers to challenge the order, saying they should be “enablers of human rights, not gatekeepers“.

How will results be transmitted without the internet?

By Catherine Byaruhanga, BBC News, Kampala

Coronavirus guidelines on social distancing and handwashing are proving hard to implement but here in Kibuli, which sits in the shadow of downtown Kampala, everyone queuing up is wearing facemasks.

media captionUgandan voters: We want peace

There are reports that a new biometric system to verify people’s identities is not working in some areas. The electoral commission’s spokesperson would not confirm whether this was because the internet has been cut off.

There are questions about how results from around the country will be transmitted to the national tally centre in Kampala without the internet. The electoral commission told the BBC it has systems in place to do this but didn’t explain further.

How bad was the violence during the campaign?

Violence has been at an unprecedented level.

image copyrightEPA
image captionArmed police have been patrolling the streets of Kampala

Security forces cracked down on gatherings ahead of the election and dozens have been killed.

The government says the ban on gatherings was to prevent the spread of coronavirus while the opposition say it was a smokescreen for repression.

Bobi Wine and others out of the 10 opposition candidates have been arrested on several occasions.

Will the vote be free and fair?

The government has previously said the election would be free and fair.

But the US cast doubt over the electoral process and withdrew its election observers after most of its accreditation requests were denied.

In response, Mr Museveni’s spokesman Don Wanyama tweeted that there were observers from the African Union and East African Community.

“I don’t remember when Uganda last sent election observers to the US,” he added.

Bobi Wine has called on voters to remain at polling stations on Thursday and use their mobile phone cameras to record the tallying process in an effort to prevent vote rigging.

Who is Yoweri Museveni?

Mr Museveni is standing for a sixth elected term in office, as leader of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

image copyrightRetuers

He came to power on the back of an armed uprising in 1986 and has long been depicted to Ugandans as a liberator and peace bringer.

But he has managed to maintain his grip on power through a mixture of encouraging a personality cult, employing patronage, compromising independent institutions and side-lining opponents, says the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire.

Who is Bobi Wine?

Bobi Wine is widely thought to be the strongest of the 10 opposition candidates in the presidential race.

The 38-year-old reggae star is known by his supporters as the ghetto president.

image copyrightMunira Hussein

His party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) party campaigns for basic needs like improving access to healthcare, education, clean water and justice.

Over the last two decades Bobi Wine’s musical output has been filled with songs about these issues and they have inspired a fervent following.

He grew up in Kampala’s Kamwokya slum where he went on to build his now world-famous recording studio.

A woman in a mask in front of a mural

AFP

Uganda’s general election

14 January 2021

  • 11candidates are running for president

  • 1of the candidates is a woman, Nancy Kalembe

  • 5elected terms so far for Yoweri Museveni

  • 50% plus 1votes needed for a candidate to avoid a run-off election

  • 529MPs will also be elected

Source: Uganda electoral commission

Related Topics

  • Yoweri Museveni

  • Uganda
  • Bobi Wine



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Why the UK Government Has Delayed Elections for So Long


Which activities are essential during a pandemic? Across England, school buildings have been closed, as have many shops, businesses and sports facilities. So what about elections? Should they go ahead? It’s an important question since local elections are scheduled to take place in the UK in May.

Among them are the English elections that were originally meant to take place in May 2020 but were postponed because of the pandemic. That means that as well as votes in Scotland and Wales, a bumper set of contests is now scheduled in England for May 2021. There will be votes for English councils, police and crime commissioners, the London mayor, the London Assembly, regional mayors and local mayors.

There has been some speculation that these too might be postponed. When asked, the prime minister has said that we have to “keep it under review”. But keeping things under review isn’t enough. If the English votes are to go ahead, important steps need to be set in motion immediately.

Running an election during a pandemic means making significant changes to the normal routine. Citizens may not want to risk their health and decide not to vote if their safety can’t be assured, so measures need to be taken to ensure their safety.

But many of the English local elections have been postponed once already. At some point, it becomes a question of whether postponing poses a threat to democratic freedoms. Some officials have had an extra year in office as a result of the first delay. These elections matter because they hold politicians to account and allow citizens to shape how public services are run. They will also provide the first litmus test for how the current UK government is performing since the 2019 general election.

2020 elections

Many elections worldwide were postponed in 2020 so England was not alone. Our research with International IDEA shows that between February and December, 75 countries and territories postponed elections for at least a short time. Most were rescheduled very quickly, however.

Italy held a referendum and elections, due in late March, at the height of the first wave, in September. Countries that did not hold or reschedule a postponed election were very troubled political systems such as Somalia. For context, Somalia has not conducted a direct popular vote since 1969.

The UK was unusual in postponing for a whole year. It has already delayed as long as Hong Kong, a postponement that even the Trump administration described as undermining “the democratic processes and freedoms”.

How to host a pandemic election

There have been more than 100 national and local elections that did happen around the world in 2020 and we have found many success stories.

A key takeaway was the importance of enabling postal voting. This facilitates higher turnout and reduces risks to staff and the public. Bavaria showed how elections in which everyone votes by post can be organised with very short notice.

However, it would be difficult to organise all-postal elections for May in England, as administrators have warned. There are rigorous anti-fraud mechanisms in place which would require the electorate to provide their signatures and date of births before being given a postal vote. Only one in five have done so so far.

Only if these mechanisms were relaxed could all-postal elections be feasible for May, which means this isn’t really a serious option. It would, however, be possible with a short delay if everyone could be encouraged to apply for a postal vote since there are no limitations on who can apply.

Urgent measures

There are other best practices that the UK government has been slow to adopt. It needs to act urgently to have them in place.

For a start, voting should be spread over several days. This makes it easier for voters to socially distance in polling stations while giving everyone time to take part. Even local elections, where turnout is low, have peaks and queues during busier moments. Early voting can also encourage higher turnout. There is time for such legislation to be drawn up and introduced. This would improve elections anyway, if the government acts now and is clear about the intentions of such legal changes.

The people running these elections also need more funding so that they can make voting safe. In Australia, polling stations were provided with hand sanitiser and extra staff were laid on so that extra cleaning could be done. In South Korea, temperature checks were taken before citizens entered polling stations. This all took money. The provision of PPE in South Korea was estimated to add $16 million to the cost of running an election in March 2020. Hand sanitiser and other health measures added $32-37 million to the budget for Sri Lankan elections.

Unfortunately, the UK government has not promised additional funds to make the 2021 elections safe. Chloe Smith, the minister for constitution and devolution, apparently envisages no additional funding being made available to local authorities to conduct the 2021 elections. Writing to electoral officials in September, she said only that local authorities had been given £3.7 billion of un-ringfenced funding to deal with coronavirus in general, and that it continued to be local authorities’ responsibility to fund local elections. This is unacceptable. More is needed.

Decision making needs to be open and transparent. We’ve seen examples of authorities holding public hearings about elections during the pandemic. But decisions are being made unrecorded behind closed doors amongst government officials. Groups representing voters with special needs need to be heard in particular so that everyone is included.

COVID-19 is presenting a very changeable situation and the new strain in the UK may cause plans to change. But if the May elections are to go ahead in England, urgent and decisive action is needed immediately.

Toby James, Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of East Anglia and Alistair Clark, Reader in Politics, Newcastle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters

 

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Making life difficult. Russian lawmakers rush to tighten legislation ahead of the 2021 State Duma elections




In the lead up to the close of the State Duma’s fall 2020 session on December 24, Russian lawmakers were working in “turbo mode.” In a matter of days, they submitted and successfully adopted — although sometimes only in the first reading — an array of bills that will seriously tighten the country’s legislation concerning “foreign agents,” public demonstrations, election campaigning, and “educational activities.” Generally speaking, lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia, introduced these initiatives, though they were sometimes joined by their colleagues from nominal opposition parties. Politicians and experts alike told Meduza that the new legislation will make it much more difficult for opposition parties to nominate candidates, run campaigns, organize public rallies, and monitor the integrity of elections in Russia. All of which will affect the State Duma elections set to take place in 2021.

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President Donald Trump Took To Twitter On A Video Message, He Was “Outraged By The Violence”

US President Donald Trump acclaimed that his only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote and “defend American democracy” as he expressed that he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” during yesterday’s Capitol riots.

One day after Twitter imposed a temporary ban on his account, the US President posted a video message saying he immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to expel demonstrators who thrashed the complex.

In the statement, he asserted “America is, and must always be, a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the capital have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”

It was already known that the nation has been through a very rough and “intense election”, Mr Trump said that he had “vigorously pursued every legal avenue” to contest the results, but that tempers must now “be cooled and calm restored”.

He even added “My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote. In so doing, I was fighting to defend American democracy. I continue to strongly believe that we must reform our election laws to verify the identity and eligibility of all voters, and to ensure faith and confidence in all future elections.”

He concluded that he is now focusing on ensuring a smooth and seamless transition of power as he declared this moment as one that calls for healing and reconciliation.

(Image source: San Francisco Chronicle)

Georgia Elections, Alibaba, China, Trump: 5 Things You Must Know


Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Jan. 6:



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10-year Treasury yield rises to 1% for the first time since March amid Georgia runoff elections


Traders work on the floor of the NYSE.

NYSE

The contests will determine control of the Senate for the next two years. Many believe a Democrat-controlled Senate could make it easier for lawmakers to push through a bigger stimulus. More government spending could lead to higher inflation, which would drive yields higher.

“It’s almost like the market is just relieved we are getting to a conclusion and yields are forming a higher range. Investors are betting more deficits, more spending and more Treasury issuance if Democrats gain control of Senate,” said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates at AmeriVet Securities. “Now that the 10-year broke 1%, we are going to spend some time in the 1% to 1.20% range.”

Earlier this week, the breakeven rate for 10-year inflation expectations touched 2% for the first time in more than two years.

It has been a sluggish rebound for the 10-year rate, which tumbled to a record low of 0.318% in March amid a historic flight to safe assets in the depth of the pandemic. With the unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus, bond yields have gradually trended higher but the persisting Covid uncertainty and uneven economic data have kept rates’ recovery bumpy.

Earlier this week, bond yields got a boost from stronger-than-expected economic data.

An index of U.S. manufacturing activity rebounded to a reading of 60.7 last month, the highest level since August 2018, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Economists polled by Dow Jones had forecast the index falling to 57.0 in December.

Tom Essaye, founder of Sevens Report, said the breakout in yields shouldn’t put pressure on risk assets in the short term.

“That wouldn’t be a direct headwind on stocks, but it would reinforce that rising yields is a theme that we need to watch closely in 2021, Essaye said Tuesday.

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How will the Republicans deal with Donald Trump once he’s left office? The Georgia run-off elections could give us a clue


You wouldn’t have known Donald Trump lost the US election looking at this week’s rally.

He lost the popular vote by more than 7 million. He came up 38 votes short of the 270 needed to win the electoral college.

But as the President prepared to take the stage at a rally in northern Georgia, the song We Are The Champions blasted through the loudspeakers.

The crowd chanted “fight for Trump” and “stop the steal”.

A woman wearing a Trump mask at a rally.(ABC News: Emily Olson)

And less than a minute after taking the podium, Mr Trump turned what was supposed to be a “get out the vote” speech into a criticism of the US election system.

“They’re not taking this White House. We’re going to fight like hell.”

Trump added more personal pressure to his ‘rigged election’ narrative

Mr Trump spent the next 80 minutes warning that Democrats would “destroy the country”, while also suggesting that members of his own party were complicit in overlooking “rampant fraud”.

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The President bashed Georgia’s Governor and Secretary of State for certifying the vote there, saying they weren’t true Republicans and would struggle to be re-elected.

He criticised the US Supreme Court for denying him legal standing in a fraud case.

He thanked the senators who had come forward to say they would object to the certification of electoral college votes in Congress two days from now — a highly symbolic move that legal experts say won’t stop Joe Biden from being named President.

Mr Trump also put pressure on his Vice-President, Mike Pence, to intervene, though Mr Pence’s role in the electoral college process, as outlined in the US Constitution, is limited to reading the result.

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he walks off the stage
Trump said he won’t be happy if Mike Pence “doesn’t come through” for him.(AP: Lynne Sladky)

The rhetoric overall was in line with the “rigged election” narrative Mr Trump has been pushing since the US started shifting its voting methods in the face of coronavirus.

But the timing of the rally itself ties Mr Trump’s words to a critical new test: the Georgia Senate run-off elections.

The Georgia Senate races are the most high-stakes of a generation first and foremost because they will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.

If the two Democratic candidates win, it’d mean wide legislative freedom for Joe Biden during his first two years in office, before the next congressional election.

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If the Republicans lose, the party might be forced to rethink their strategy, which looks very much like the strategy that lost them Georgia in the general election: following the President’s lead in revving up his base, rather than trying to build bridges to the moderate Republicans.

Two consecutive losses of such a magnitude will force the party to reconsider what it needs to win elections going forward.

The party’s loyalty to Mr Trump is on the line.

There’s a growing rift between Republicans over what to do with Trump’s fraud claims

Just in the two months since the election, some of Mr Trump’s most loyal allies have begun splitting with the President in small but notable ways.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged Joe Biden’s presidential win, though he’s stopped short of condemning election fraud.

He also led the Senate in sticking with $US600 ($778) stimulus checks as part of a recent COVID-19 relief bill, siding with the Republicans’ pre-Trump brand of fiscal conservatism over the President’s populism.

A crowd of people sit in front of a sign saying Kelly Georgia conservative.
Supporters listen as Trump addresses a campaign rally in Georgia.(ABC News: Emily Olson)

Republicans voted overwhelmingly to override a presidential veto on a defence bill that’s popular with military families who’ve long leaned Republican.

And Mr Trump’s hand-picked Attorney-General, William Barr, publicly said the Justice Department doesn’t believe the election should be overturned because of fraud.

Granted, there’s still some members of the party who are willing to bet that taking up Mr Trump’s battles will gain them the support they need to win future elections.

The two senators leading efforts to object to the electoral college vote are Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley — two men whose 2024 presidential ambitions are an open secret.

And then, of course, there’s the whole mess of Georgia.

Georgia’s Senate races are still toss-ups

It’s tough to get a read on which candidates are leading in the race, which is atypical in every way.

We’ve got two simultaneous run-offs of high stakes, held during a pandemic, two months after an election with the biggest voter turnout in US history, in a state that flipped from Mr Trump to Mr Biden.

Polling for run-off races isn’t as reliable as general election polling, but the numbers show a toss-up.

Fundraising for both candidates has broken records — collectively amounting to more than $US500 million, making them among the most expensive Senate races in history.

Early voting turn-out, too, has smashed the standards, drawing over 39 per cent of the state’s registered voters.

“But this time around, we’re seeing presidential-level early voter turnout, especially in key Democratic counties. Some Republican counties are significantly behind where they were for early voting in November.”

But the Republican Party is not stepping back from the strategy.

The candidates on the right, senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have consistently picked Mr Trump’s side over the rest of the party’s, even if it meant condemning Georgia’s election system as unfair as they ask people to vote for them.

Both senators announced they would object to the electoral college vote on Wednesday (local time).

A woman wearing a make america great again beanie and puffer jacket smiles.
The Georgia Senate run-offs are the most important in a generation.(ABC News: Emily Olson)

But the biggest wager may be asking Mr Trump to speak on election eve.

The party knew full well that he’d come out swinging on the “rigged election” lines, especially after a recording of a call revealed that Mr Trump pressured Georgia’s top election official to change the general election results.

Will voters turn out for an election they don’t believe is fair?

Notably, the party chose Whitfield County for the site of the rally.

The Republican-leaning region, which voted for Mr Trump by a 44-point margin in 2016, saw high early voting turnout in the general election, but is trailing the state average by about eight points now.

A woman with grey hair and wearing a sweater smiles with people behind her.
Elena Merino will still vote in the Georgia Senate election despite the President’s claims of election fraud.(ABC News: Emily Olson)

Rally attendees like Elena Merino said there was nothing risky about asking Mr Trump to speak so close to the election day.

She said the Republicans she knows are coming out to vote because, even though they believe the election was stolen, voting is the only course of action they have left.

“I’ve done everything else I can do. What other choice do I have?” Ms Merino said.

Mr Trump, too, framed voting as the best recourse against a rigged election.

“We’ve got to swamp them.”

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Leaked audio reveals Mr Trump pushing Georgia officials to “find” more votes.

If the Republicans lose control over the Georgia Senate because of low turnout, we’ll never know for sure whether it was because Mr Trump’s voter fraud narrative led some to stay home out of fear or frustration.

But we also won’t be able to rule that out.

The Republican Party will have to move forward believing, at least a little, that Mr Trump’s power has become a liability in a President Biden era.

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Georgians vote in tense run-off elections to decide US Senate control


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Democrats need to win both races to gain Senate control from Republicans. Results are expected to be in by Wednesday morning, local time.

No Democratic candidate has won a Senate race in Georgia in two decades. Opinion surveys have shown both races to be exceedingly close. The run-off elections, a quirk of state law, became necessary when no candidate in either senatorial race exceeded 50 per cent of the vote in November.

Voters endured long lines at some polling sites and had no lines at others.

Scott Sweeney, 63, said he was voting for Perdue and Loeffler as a way to block the Democrats from getting control of the Senate.

“I believe the two of them are consistent with my values,” Sweeney said at a polling place in Cobb County, north-west of Atlanta. “Taxes for one, and traditional values.”

Also voting in Cobb County, Roshard Tamplin, 42, said he backed the two Democrats, citing civil rights and voting rights as important issues.

“They’re trying to make it harder to vote, especially for black people,” Tamplin, who is black, said of Republicans.

Biden, due to take office on January 20, was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in Georgia since 1992.

Trump and Biden campaigned in Georgia on Monday.

Trump called the November election “rigged” and falsely claimed he won the state as he used his speech to air grievances about his defeat. It remains to be seen whether Trump’s claims about election fraud will dissuade Republican voters in Georgia from casting ballots, as some in the party have feared.

“We won three times here,” Biden quipped at Monday’s rally as he urged Georgians to vote Democratic.

A double Democratic win would split the Senate 50-50, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote giving Democrats control of the chamber. Each of the 50 states is represented by two senators in the 100-seat chamber.

Democrats control the House of Representatives, with the number of seats allotted to states determined by their population. Democratic control of both chambers could give a boost to Biden’s legislative agenda in areas such as economic relief, climate change, healthcare and policing reform.

Voting in Marietta, LaVonte Jackson, 42, supported the Democrats, saying, “Kamala and Biden have a lot of work to do, especially after four years of Trump. I don’t know if there’s been a more important vote.”

On Wall Street, stocks opened lower as investors awaited the results that will determine the balance of power in Washington.

Early vote record

Polls are open until 7pm local time on Tuesday (11am AEDT Wednesday). Some 3 million ballots have already been cast in early in-person and mail-in voting, mirroring a trend seen in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Raffensperger told Fox News the election results will likely be known on Wednesday morning. Raffensperger has called Trump’s false claims on voter fraud in Georgia disinformation.

“That’s really hurt voter confidence in this election,” Raffensperger said. “… I can assure you that it will be a fair and honest election, that it’ll be safe and it’ll be dependable.”

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Democrats were encouraged by the early vote, including strong numbers from black voters, seen as crucial to their chances. Republicans have historically turned out in higher numbers on election day.

Perdue and Loeffler have supported Trump’s unfounded fraud claims while arguing they represent the last barrier to an era of unrestrained liberalism in Washington.

“We’ll look back on this day if we don’t vote and really rue the day that we turn the keys to the kingdom over to the Democrats,” Perdue told Fox News on Tuesday.

On Monday, Loeffler said she would object to the certification of Biden’s win when Congress meets on Wednesday to formally count the presidential vote. Perdue, whose term technically ended on Sunday, also has backed the extraordinary move, which has virtually no chance of succeeding.

Reuters

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Georgia Senate runoff elections: What to know


Tuesday morning voters in Georgia are headed to the polls for the culmination of a very long election year, casting the ballots that will decide the control of the U.S. Senate for at least the next two years. 

After no candidate in either of Georgia’s two U.S. Senate elections got more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 3, the top two candidates in each race moved on to the Jan. 5 runoffs. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock for her seat. Meanwhile, Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired on Sunday, is fighting to retain his seat against Democrat Jon Ossoff. 

Typically, voters are not in the position to know whether their senators or members of Congress will control the balance of power in either chamber when they cast their votes. There are usually too many states and too many possible outcomes for that. 

Not in this case. Republicans gained control of 50 Senate seats in November while Democrats won the presidency and the vice presidency, leaving up for grabs just Georgia’s two Senate seats.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., gestures as she speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Milton, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If Republicans win even one of the Georgia races, they’ll hold a Senate majority for the next two years and have an effective veto over President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. If Democrats sweep both races, however, the Senate will be at an effective 50-50 tie on party lines. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would then be able to break ties on party-line votes. 

GEORGIA SENATE RUNOFFS BRINGING ON A ‘GREAT DEAL OF URGENCY’ AMONG DEMS: STACEY ABRAMS

The candidates themselves have made the stakes of the election clear, with Ossoff saying he plans to “take power away from Mitch McConnell” and Loeffler emphasizing that “everything is on the line” in Georgia. 

“It really feels like we’re at the center of the political universe and will be until Jan. 5,” Maria Saporta, the chair of the Atlanta Press Club Debate Committee, told Fox News before the debate between Loeffler and Warnock in early December. 

Fox News Channel and FoxNews.com will cover the results of the runoff elections in real time Tuesday, with pivotal analysis, context and perspective.

Here’s what to know about the Georgia runoffs. 

They’ve been expensive

The Georgia runoffs have been some of the most expensive two months of nonpresidential politics in American history. The total ad spending in the race has reached nearly $500 million. 

To put that in perspective, that’s about the amount of spending of an average presidential campaign. 

Democratic U.S. Senate challenger the Rev. Raphael Warnock during a rally Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ga., with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and fellow Democratic U.S. Senate challenger Jon Ossoff. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Democratic U.S. Senate challenger the Rev. Raphael Warnock during a rally Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ga., with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and fellow Democratic U.S. Senate challenger Jon Ossoff. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

The 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign spent nearly $450 million. The 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign spent about $585 million. The Trump 2020 campaign spent just under $775 million, which is similar to what both Obama campaigns spent. 

But the Georgia spending is all concentrated in one state, over the course of two months.

PERDUE ON GEORGIA SENATE RUNOFFS: TRUMP RIGHT THAT ‘SOMETHING UNTOWARD’ HAPPENED IN ELECTION

Veteran Georgia-based Republican consultant Chip Lake told FOX Business that the astronomical ad spending’s “unlike anything I’ve ever seen because it’s so sustained. Every week since Thanksgiving has been what the last week before a general election normally is.”

Notably, the approximately $500 million total does not include get-out-the-vote efforts by campaigns and parties. So the actual total is higher.  

Poll closing time

Polls in Georgia close at 7 p.m. That means voters who are in line by that time can vote. Voters may also drop their absentee ballots off at a drop box by 7 p.m.

Turnout is key

There has been very little in the way of efforts to persuade voters in Georgia to vote for one side or the other, or to convince independents to come to one side or the other from the middle. 

Republican candidate for Senate Sen. David Perdue and his wife, Bonnie, react during a campaign stop at Peachtree Dekalb Airport Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Republican candidate for Senate Sen. David Perdue and his wife, Bonnie, react during a campaign stop at Peachtree Dekalb Airport Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Like the presidential election, the Georgia runoffs are turnout elections, with each side running constant negative ads against the other and making efforts to energize their base. 

“We don’t go in to register voters or to convince anybody there, we just want to be sure that we get our people out to vote,” Joan Reynolds, the chair of the Mighty Alabama Strike Force, which has had volunteers in Georgia since November, told Fox News in an interview.

LOEFFLER VS. WARNOCK ON HEALTH CARE: WHERE THEY STAND

The various campaigns and a bevy of other outside groups have taken that approach to the runoffs as well. 

That means how many voters show up to the polls and where it is they show up will be key for Democrats and Republicans. Democrats tend to vote by mail and vote early more than Republicans, and that is showing up in the numbers of votes reported so far. 

If rural, more conservative areas see a large surge in turnout on Election Day, then that will be a key for Loeffler and Perdue to win. If the turnout among those groups is closer to that of urban areas, it will be a good sign for Ossoff and Warnock as they will likely lead in votes not cast on Election Day. 

Results may take time

Georgia was one of several states where it took multiple days to count ballots during the general election. This was because of a combination of the large volume of people voting absentee — those ballots are more physically demanding to count than standard ballots — and the close margin of the presidential race. 

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Georgia Jon Ossoff speaks after voting early in Atlanta on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. For the second time in three years, Ossoff is campaigning in overtime. The question is whether the 33-year-old Democrat can deliver a win in a crucial Jan. 5 runoff with Republican Sen. David Perdue. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Georgia Jon Ossoff speaks after voting early in Atlanta on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. For the second time in three years, Ossoff is campaigning in overtime. The question is whether the 33-year-old Democrat can deliver a win in a crucial Jan. 5 runoff with Republican Sen. David Perdue. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

PERDUE VS. OSSOFF ON HEALTH CARE: WHERE THEY STAND

Both Georgia runoffs are likely to be close as well, so there may not be a clear winner on election night. 

Everyone’s interested

President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Biden all rallied in Georgia on Monday. Harris rallied in Georgia Sunday. 

The campaigns have been supported by a who’s who of high-profile politicians on each side, including Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Biden transportation secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg and more. 

A number of Hollywood stars have also backed the Democrats. Meanwhile, singer Lee Greenwood played in Georgia at an event supporting Perdue and Loeffler. 

Biden agenda at stake

The Senate majority will play a major role in the upcoming two years. Biden’s agenda, among other things, includes a public health insurance option, rolling back the 2017 tax cuts, further coronavirus aid, rolling back Trump immigration policies and other executive orders, and ambitious environmental programs. 

As president, Biden will also have the opportunity to appoint federal judges, including Supreme Court justices. He can also pick crucial executive appointees who will shape federal policy. 

A Republican-controlled Senate could stand in the way of many of those priorities, forcing Biden to moderate his policies so they are able to make it through the Senate. 

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Many Democrats have also promoted policies like the Green New Deal, court-packing and ending the legislative filibuster. These would likely have a hard time even under a Democrat-controlled Senate, as moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he will not abide by such ideas, sparking a public feud with Ocasio-Cortez.

But David McIntosh, the president of the conservative Club for Growth, which has campaigned for Loeffler and Perdue, said he does not trust Manchin to be a buffer in that situation. 

“You’ve got to worry about it, right, because if he’s the sole guy stopping them, the pressure on him from his friends and former allies is going to be enormous,” McIntosh said. “So I think a much better stopgap would be to keep the Republican majority in both of these races.”

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report. 



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Joe Biden’s agenda and control of the US Senate: What’s at stake in Georgia’s runoff elections


Control of the US Senate, and with it, the likely fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, will be on the ballot on Tuesday (local time) when voters in Georgia decide twin runoff elections. 

The high-stakes campaign that has unfolded since 3 November, when Mr Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the presidential election, has obliterated spending records and spurred unprecedented turnout. Political groups have flooded the southern state with a tsunami of television advertising.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, and Mr Trump, a Republican, will visit on Monday, underscoring the political stakes of the contests.

If either or both Republican incumbent senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, win on Tuesday, their party would retain a narrow majority, effectively giving Senate Republicans the ability to block Mr Biden’s most ambitious goals.

A Democratic sweep would produce a 50-50 split, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaker that determines control.

Democrat Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, is challenging Mr Perdue, while the Rev Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at the historic Black church Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, will take on Ms Loeffler.

Mr Biden’s narrow Georgia victory in November, the first in a generation for a Democratic presidential candidate, completed the state’s shift from a Republican stronghold to a fiercely competitive battleground.

The 5 January head-to-head runoffs were triggered when no candidate reached 50 per cent in November. Polls suggest the contests are virtual dead heats.

Early voting has shattered runoff records, with three million ballots already cast.

Supporters arrive to hear from US Republican Senator for Georgia David Perdue during the first day of early voting for the US Senate runoff election in Atlanta.

EPA/AAP

“These are crazy numbers,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor tracking the Georgia vote.

Black turnout, critical to the Democrats’ chances, has been robust; about one-third of the ballots have come from self-identified Black voters, up from around 27% in November.

“Democrats need to see an electorate like this in order to be able to win the election,” Mr McDonald said. But he said it was impossible to predict the final outcome, cautioning that Republicans could turn out in higher numbers on Tuesday.

100,000 new voters

Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose voter registration efforts helped deliver the state for Mr Biden, told CNN on Sunday that early turnout includes 100,000 new voters who did not cast ballots in November.

“Those 100,000 are disproportionately comprised of people of color and young voters, who are both more likely to vote for Democrats,” Ms Abrams said.

Bobby Jenkins, the Democratic chair in rural Randolph County, said he felt good about his county’s high early voting figures after an aggressive door-to-door push to get out the black vote.

“It’s going to hinge on how many Republicans turn out on Election Day,” he said.

The races have drawn a staggering US$490 million in ad spending, according to the tracking firm AdImpact. Mr Biden’s political team has directed at least US$18 million to the Democratic effort, according to a person familiar with the matter, including staff, data support and fundraising.

If close, the results could remain unclear for days as ballots are counted, and legal challenges could prolong the process. Mr Biden’s 12,000-vote victory took more than a week to confirm, and two recounts pushed the state’s final certification into December.

Ms Abrams said definitive results could take “at least a couple of days” because of the number of mail-in ballots.

Mr Biden will rally alongside Mr Ossoff and Mr Warnock in Atlanta on Monday.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base,  Wednesday, 23 December, 2020.

Mr Trump, a Republican, will visit on Monday, underscoring the political stakes of the contests.

AAP

Mr Trump, meanwhile, will visit heavily Republican Whitfield County in northwestern Georgia on Monday. His insistence contrary to evidence that his loss was due to fraud has some Republicans concerned that his most ardent supporters may stay home, convinced the vote is rigged.

Mr Trump has demanded Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, resign after they refused to substantiate his fraud claims.

Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue have struck an awkward balance, supporting Mr Trump’s accusations even as they warn that they represent a “firewall” against a Democratic takeover. They have portrayed their opponents as radical socialists.

Mr Perdue’s term ended on Sunday, leaving him sidelined on 6 January when some congressional Republicans say they will attempt to block the certification of Mr Biden’s victory.

“The technical problem is that I won’t be certified until this election is certified, some week to 10 days after the election,” Mr Perdue said on Fox News on Sunday. “I’m encouraging my colleagues to object.”

Mr Ossoff on CNN tried to undermine the Republican “firewall” message on Sunday, accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of “snubbing and disrespecting” Mr Trump by refusing to hold a vote on US$2,000 COVID-19 relief checks sought by the president and by overriding his veto of a defense bill.

Mr Perdue has been absent from the campaign’s closing days after being exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus. The Republicans have planned an election night party in Atlanta, while the Democrats have eschewed an in-person event due to the pandemic.

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