What is a runoff election? Let’s break down what’s happening in Georgia

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The U.S. Senate race in Georgia is heading to a runoff election, where Democrat Raphael Warnock will face Republican Herschel Walker for a second time.

On top of this race being exceptionally close, Georgia is also one of only two U.S. states with a runoff for both primary and general elections.

This means that under Georgia election law, if no candidate obtains over 50% of the vote, a runoff is triggered, and the top two candidates will face off again in a new election held four weeks after Election Day.

In this case, Warnock and Walker’s runoff election will take place on Dec. 6. There is no required threshold to win in that race.

The December election will mark the second time that Warnock’s bid for the Senate has gone to a runoff. Two years ago, he defeated then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, in a runoff race.

The predecessor of Georgia’s runoff election was adopted after the Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved people in Southern states. Runoffs were seen as additional roadblocks for Black people to vote, according to the U.S. Vote Foundation, which characterizes the practice as having “Jim Crow roots.”

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