Voters in the state of Georgia are casting ballots Tuesday in a pair of tightly-contested run-off elections that will ultimately decide who controls the US Senate.
Hanging in the balance is the ease with which President-elect Joe Biden will be able to enact his agenda after he assumes office Jan. 20.
Democrats have already secured a majority in the House of Representatives, but should Republicans win either of the two races, the legislature would be split along partisan lines, requiring far more political maneuvering from Biden for at least the first two years of his four-year term.
Republicans currently hold a narrow 50-48 majority with the two races outstanding.
Republican Senator David Perdue is facing off against Democrat Jon Ossoff while Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the post by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in January 2020, is contending against a Democratic challenge from Raphael Warnock.
Democrats need to win both races to secure a 50-50 split in the chamber, and if they can pull it off the deciding vote on key issues would go to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. That would effectively give Senate control to the Democrats.
Biden and outgoing President Donald Trump took to Georgia on Monday in separate bids to energize their respective bases with Trump urging voters to come out in force while falsely claiming the election was stolen from him.
Trump has offered only spurious allegations ad hoc without producing evidence to back his claims. They have repeatedly been dismissed in successive court cases, and federal probes failed to garner evidence of any such widespread voter fraud, a fact former Attorney General William Barr acknowledged before he left office last month.
Trump has galvanized supporters with the charges ahead of a two-day demonstration where protesters said they will decry the election results in the nation’s capital beginning Tuesday. They will culminate Wednesday when Congress is set to sign off on Biden’s sweeping 306-232 Electoral College victory.
Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence, who will ceremoniously preside over the session, to intervene in the vote counting, saying Tuesday on Twitter that Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
The loyalist number two has not tipped his hand on what he will do, but Pence does not have that power. His role is largely ceremonial and the session is traditionally pro forma, though this year several Republicans have increased the drama around the event, saying they will object to the proceedings.
The move is doomed for failure without adequate support from party members, but fears have grown about the lasting consequences it could have for American democracy.
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