2020 fall early voting file photo

Voters cast ballots at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Beauty P. Baldwin Building in Lawrenceville on Oct. 12, which was the first day of early voting for the 2020 general election. On Tuesday, county commissioners approved a plan to begin early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff election on Dec. 14.

Mid-to-late December is traditionally the Christmas season, but it will also be the season of voting this year.

Gwinnett County commissioners voted Tuesday afternoon to approve a late December early voting schedule that will run Dec. 14-31, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which are county holidays. Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston said the early voting period will end on a Thursday because the Friday of that week — New Year’s Day — is a county holiday.

The early voting period includes two weekends where voters would be able to cast ballots.

“At the time of (the Gwinnett elections board’s Nov. 10) meeting, we were actually discussing having two separate advance voting cycles for the December runoff and the January runoff, but since that time, the Secretary of State’s Office has combined those two runoffs and both will be held on Jan. 5,” Royston said.

The runoff is getting a lot of attention, not just in Georgia but also across the nation and around the world, because two U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot. Control of the Senate hangs in the balance with this election raising the stakes for Republicans and Democrats.

The seats are currently held by U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both R-Ga. Perdue is facing Democrat Jon Ossoff for his seat while Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock in the special election runoff for her seat.

Republicans currently hold the majority in the Senate, but Democrats can take control of the chamber if Ossoff and Warnock can defeat Perdue and Loeffler, respectively, on Jan. 5.

That means Republicans and Democrats are going to be pushing their party bases to head to the polls to vote in the runoff.

In addition to the Senate runoffs, there will also be a runoff for Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald’s seat on the Jan. 5 ballot. McDonald finished just shy of the 50% he needed to secure re-election on Nov. 3.

Voting hours at Gwinnett’s early voting locations would be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the elections headquarters in Lawrenceville and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bogan Park community recreation center, Dacula Park activity building, George Pierce Park community recreation center, Lenora Park gym, Lucky Shoals Park community recreation center, Mountain Park activity building, Shorty Howell Park activity building and possibly the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds — depending on whether the fairgrounds are available.

“We have not discussed an additional site if the fairgrounds are not available,” Royston told commissioners.

It was not immediately clear how absentee-by-mail drop boxes will be done for the run-off. Royston told commissioners that the elections board was expected to take up that matter at a meeting it had scheduled for Tuesday evening.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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