Ga. lawmakers looking to make major changes to runoff elections

ATLANTA — After voters and some elections offices across Georgia expressed concern over a shorter, four-week time frame between the general election and runoff, a Lilburn Democratic lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to extend that time period to six weeks.

State Rep. Jasmine Clark told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot Wednesday that she will pre-file a bill before the General Assembly to extend the time frame.

“I just felt like there wasn’t enough time for elections administrators,” Clark said. “It was like, by the time one election was over, they were already ready to start another.”

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Several county elections offices expressed concerns over the shortened time frame, saying it made it more difficult for them to do their jobs. 

Cobb County Elections Supervisor Janine Eveler said earlier this month that it was a hardship on her office. That office had to delay sending out absentee ballots because the new four week time frame also fell right in the Thanksgiving holiday.

“As all of the Georgia elections offices have been saying for quite a while, especially during the last legislative session, a four week turnaround from a general election to a general runoff is an almost impossible task,” Eveler said.

Georgia lawmakers reduced the time between general and runoff from nine weeks to four during the last legislative session. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during an election night news conference that he would encourage state lawmakers to reexamine ways to make the runoff better.


“There are a lot of different options they could look at, I think,” Raffensperger said. “At the end of the day, that’s something we would encourage the General Assembly to take a look at.”

Lawmakers could extend the time frame, or they could eliminate the runoff system altogether and instead use a plurality vote where the top vote getter in the general election is declared the winner even if they finish under 50%.

Clark thinks the General Assembly should move slowly whatever it does.

“I think the appetite is there, but I think we need to take bite sized pieces and not just try to bite into the whole cake, because that’s not good for Georgia,” Clark said.

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The General Assembly convenes in January.