Something Is Going Seriously Wrong in Georgia’s Special Election

The special Congressional election in Georgia is a dead heat, and several thousand residents of one county have already been prevented from voting.

Voters from Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton counties are all part of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, though the Southern part of DeKalb County is not in the district. According to local media, several thousand DeKalb County residents were prevented from casting ballots in tonight’s election, due to their addresses being just slightly outside of the district’s confusing borders. The issue reportedly happened during the primary election as well, in which Ossoff came away as the top vote-getter, but came in just shy of breaking the barrier needed to avoid tonight’s runoff election.

“I don’t know! It’s really confusing. I just don’t know,” DeKalb County voter Patricia Beasley told WSB-TV in Atlanta when asked why she wasn’t able to vote. “I’m personally mad, and mad on behalf of my people right here. Because we all live in DeKalb County. We all pay taxes.”

30-year-old Jon Ossoff is the Democrat aiming to take Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which has been solidly Republican since 1979, when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich held the seat until 1999. The seat was recently left empty when Republican Tom Price vacated it to become President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Ossoff is running against Republican Karen Handel, who narrowly lost the 2014 Republican primary election for a U.S. Senate seat. Handel is currently Georgia’s Secretary of State, and oversees all elections in the state. Ossoff himself doesn’t live in the 6th Congressional District, but rather just outside of its borders with his girlfriend, who is currently taking med school classes. Ossoff maintains he’s spent most of his life in the 6th Congressional District and knows the community well.

President Trump has endorsed Handel, and sent off several tweets encouraging voters to support her while criticizing Ossoff.

Tonight’s special election has proven to be the costliest U.S. House election in history, with amounts spent by both Democratic and Republican groups amounting to roughly $60 million. Two thirds of the $23.9 million raised by Ossoff came from small donations of $200 or less, according to IssueOne. Groups supporting Handel outspent pro-Ossoff groups by a 2.5-to-1 margin. In just the runoff phase alone, which the period from the April 18 primary to tonight’s runoff, outside groups spent nearly $19 million in combined ads for both Ossoff and Handel.

The latest polls heading into tonight’s election showed both candidates were neck-and-neck. Even if Handel narrowly prevails tonight, it won’t bode well for the national Republican party, given the reputation Georgia’s 6th Congressional District has had for the last three decades as a Republican stronghold. Up until tonight, no Democrats have won in any of the special Congressional elections in deep-red districts throughout 2017.

 

Jamie Green is a contributor to the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.