Stars and Stripes 31 Dec, 2020 21:30 am

Georgia's unique runoff system was shaped by a long, complicated history

Georgia's unique runoff system was shaped by a long, complicated history
Georgians sifting through piles of campaign mail mixed in with their holiday cards can blame the state's unique runoff system, which has survived multiple legal and political challenges since it originated more than 100 years ago.

Race also has fueled the debate given the system's roots in the Jim Crow era, and some have argued runoffs discriminate against Black candidates.Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the plaintiffs detailed dozens of examples of Black candidates losing in runoffs and cited comments made by Denmark Groover, the state legislator who authored the state's election's law in 1964.Dunne, the then-assistant attorney general for civil rights, said Georgia's runoff had "a demonstrably chilling effect" on Black candidates and acted as "an electoral steroid for white candidates." After a four-day bench trial in 1996, a federal district court ruled that even though Georgia had a long history of discrimination in its elections, Brooks and his co-plaintiffs did not prove the law discouraged Black candidates or would deter them more than white candidates.

"Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams have both proven that statewide Black candidates can compete."Once you begin to run for office," he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "you realize that you have a much better chance of winning the general election if you carry a majority of the party with you in the primary.

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