With the Poles Suggesting a Close Presidential race, Learn About Runoff Election

The federal election is coming up Tuesday November 3 and the race is close.

What Is a Runoff Election?

Election Day is the chance for everyday Americans to voice their opinions and construct change in local, state, and national offices as well as important issues like civil rights. Voters venture out to cast their ballots and then return home to watch the election results with the rest of the city, state, or country.

When an election is too close to call, the media covering high-profile races begin to predict the next steps for that particular election. As headlines announce these predictions, households throughout the country begin hearing terms like recounts and runoff elections, the latter of which may be unheard of by many. The majority of states don’t hold runoff elections, so most Americans are unfamiliar with the concept.

A runoff election, occasionally referred to as a “two-round system,” is a second election that is held between the two candidates who received the most votes in the original election to determine which candidate is elected to office. A runoff election occurs in the event that no candidate wins the first election by a majority of the vote or the voting results in a tie between the two leading candidates.

What Prompts a Runoff Election?

There are currently 12 states in the US that conduct runoff elections. Each state’s law dictates what prompts a runoff election to occur.

In accordance with each respective state’s law, runoff elections are held when:

  • Alabama – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • Arkansas – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • Georgia – In primary elections and general elections for certain state offices, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • Louisiana – In federal primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote; in elections for congressional and state offices, Louisiana employs a Cajun primary system, in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot. The two candidates who receive the most votes proceed to the general election. If the winner of the general election obtains less than 50% of the vote, a runoff election is held to determine the winner.
  • Mississippi – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote; in gubernatorial elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% plus one vote, in which case legislators will decide the winner
  • North Carolina – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 40% of the vote
  • Oklahoma – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • South Carolina – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • South Dakota – In gubernatorial primary elections and federal primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 35% of the vote
  • Texas – In primary elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote
  • Vermont – In gubernatorial and select state office elections, the winning candidate receives less than 50% plus one vote or legislators will decide the winner
  • Washington – State and federal elections employ a two-party system in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the two who receive the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. The general election determines the winner.

 

Why Are Runoff Elections Important?

Runoff elections are important for both the voters and political candidates. These elections influence candidates to direct their campaigning efforts toward a more diverse constituency in order to gain the support of voters whose candidates did not advance beyond the primary or general election. Runoff elections are also a second chance for voters to decide who is elected into office.

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