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Georgia Elections: Rules of the runoff

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With the May 22 primary elections behind us, now it is time for voters to focus their attention on the July 24 runoff election. After the primaries, democrats are energized by the turnout and performance of their candidates. Republicans will also be energized during the runoff and the November election in an effort to fight off the blue wave that rushed through the state earlier this month.

Whether you voted or stayed home during the May 22 primary, there are a few rules you need to be aware of during the runoff. Here’s what you need to know:

There are actually two runoffs: Much like the primary, there is a republican runoff and a democratic runoff. You can only vote in one, and if you voted in the primary, that choice has likely already been made for you. Read on.

If you voted in the primary, you can’t switch parties in the runoff: If you are a democrat who voted for the Stacey of your choice during the primary, you can’t cross over and vote against a republican candidate you don’t like in the runoff. Likewise, if you’re a republican who really wants to vote against a particular candidate on the democratic side, you have to stick with the republican ballot for the runoff.

If you didn’t vote in the primary, you can vote in either party’s runoff: If you sat out the May 22 primary, you can choose which party’s runoff you vote in. This is because you haven’t declared your allegiance to any party yet, so you’re free to choose a party now.

If you chose the nonpartisan ballot in the primary, you now have to choose a party: There is no nonpartisan runoff, so you are free to pick which party you will vote for in the runoff.

Your choice is not permanent: Your party choice is only valid for one primary and runoff cycle. Voters in Georgia do not register as members of a party and your choice in the primary or runoff has no relationship to how you choose to vote in future elections.

You can vote for anyone in November: The November ballot is not partisan and you will not have to declare a party on that ballot.

Why do Georgians have to declare a party for primaries and runoffs: During primary elections and runoffs, the two political parties are choosing their nominees for the November election. When you vote in a primary or runoff you are determining your party’s nominee. While both parties vote on the same day, there is one election being held for the republicans and one for the democrats. Primaries and runoffs are partisan events.

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