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The electoral process to elect the two senators for Georgia, which will determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives, began Monday with the start of early voting amid a controversy over the reduction of the number of voting centers.
In these crucial second round elections, to be held on January 5th, Democratic candidates, journalist Jon Ossoff and African-American socialist Reverend Raphael Warnock, will seek to snatch the seats of Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
The first polling places opened at 7 a.m. local time (12:00 GMT), and several already had lines from early hours, such as at the State Farm Arena, where the Atlanta Hawks -the professional basketball team- play in Georgia’s capital downtown, one of the largest voting sites ever set up in the state.
This three-week early voting period is expected to be very busy because control of the Senate in Washington is at stake, and so some of the state’s most populous counties have set up fewer polling places.
One of these is Cobb, with the third largest population in the state (760,000), which significantly reduced the number of voting sites compared to those made available during the November general election, reducing the sites from eleven to five, on the grounds that it lacked the personnel to staff them all.
The early voting period starts the same week that Joe Biden plans to join Democratic candidates on the campaign trail in Atlanta, on his first visit to Georgia since November 3rd.
With the upsurge in cases of Coronavirus in Georgia, more than 1.2 million voters have already requested absentee ballots for this election to vote by mail or deposit them in ballot boxes placed in different parts of the state, a number similar to that registered for the November 3rd vote.
Pollsters predict a close election, as in the last election in Georgia, where Biden beat President Donald Trump by a slim margin of less than 12,000 votes, but which earned him the first victory for a Democratic presidential candidate in this state since the 1990s when Bill Clinton won.