Christmas shoppers in Atlanta were talking about going back to voting on December 6th.

ATLANTA—The rest of the country is mostly done with the midterm elections. The votes have been counted and the results are in.

But in Georgia, which is holding a December 6 runoff in its Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, voters will have to get out and do it all over again next week.

This year differs from the 2020 Georgia Senate runoff for several reasons. For one thing, the national stakes aren’t quite as high — the Senate has already been won by the Democrats, so the make-up of Congress isn’t solely dependent on Georgia. (That doesn’t mean Democrats don’t want the extra seat.) There is only one runoff election this year (2020 resulted in runoffs for both Senate seats, one by special vote).

And the electorate for this race remains basically the same: In Georgia, voters must register four weeks before an election, meaning residents who have turned 18 since Election Day will not be able to vote on December 6th. (Early voting started on November 28.)

But all that doesn’t mean the race isn’t as important as the last runoff, for both the state and the country.

As people began their Christmas shopping at Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, a popular grocery and shopping mall in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, Georgians spoke out about the election and why they feel compelled to show up — despite their frustration with Georgia’s runoff rules and the Fact that the drain is, well, annoying. (People are particularly tired of the incessant political publicity.)

“I’ll show up before or after work,” said Mikayla Lucas, who works in education and walked through the second floor of the market along with employees who were putting up festive decorations. “It’s not ideal timing, but I’m having a digital day” — meaning she doesn’t have to be in the classroom that day — “so I can and will take my time to vote.”

The last runoff election took place two months after the 2020 election. It really drew tremendous national attention because the entire Senate majority under a newly elected President, Biden, was betting on victory. With the Senate majority already decided this year, some voters said they were concerned Georgia voters might be complacent and not go to the polls a second time.

“I think people will show up, but not like they did the first time,” Telvin Debnam said Wednesday while standing outside an Italian restaurant in the market.

“Nationally, the Democrats have the Senate,” he said, worrying that his countrymen “may not think another seat would be helpful.” He said Democrats shouldn’t count Sens. Krysten Sinema or Joe Manchin to vote on their behalf. Commenting on the results of the runoff, he added, “I guess I’m not worried, but I’m worried.”

Shannon Booker also said he’s concerned that “people aren’t going to stand out as much because they’re not looking at the big picture.”

“Walker is not good for the Georgians, for the Americans, and he is not the person we want to represent us,” he said. “Electing someone who can barely articulate a sentence and has no idea would be embarrassing and frightening.”

He added that he couldn’t shake the feeling that Mr. Walker was a Republican pawn. “In the minds of Republicans, they put him out here and he’s going to share black votes, but we know he won’t have a vote if he’s elected,” said Mr. Booker, who is black. “He’ll just do what the people who paid for him to get there want him to do.”

The race between Walker and Warnock went into the run-off because no candidate immediately won 50 percent of the votes. (Warnock won 49.4 percent of the vote; Walker won 48.5 percent; and Libertarian candidate, Chase Oliver, won 2 percent.)

Symone Miller, an out-of-state visitor who visited Atlanta from Texas and was also at the Ponce City Market Wednesday, said she was confused about Georgia’s election process.

“Why do they have to vote twice when one person has already done better than the other?” Ms Miller asked, noting that she hopes Georgians will show up for the runoff to “stop this”.

Ms Miller said she has been following the Georgia election closely this cycle, particularly the governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp and the Senate race between Warnock and Walker.

Walker’s campaign was marked by shocking revelations that he had fathered “secret children” (though he’s made a name for himself as a conservative figure in part by decrying the alleged irresponsibility of absentee black fathers) and allegations he’s had multiple wives about abortions urged, although as a candidate he supports a total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or to save the patient’s life.

Walker entered the race primarily because of Donald Trump, who continued to push his candidacy. Republicans have stood by Walker despite news about abortion and secret children.

Attention to the race brought in millions and millions of dollars from both sides of the political aisle. According to NBC News, spending on the runoff alone is expected to pale in comparison to the two Georgia Senate runoffs in 2020. That year, both parties spent nearly $500 million combined.

All that money has translated into a a lot of of ads that have become an inescapable part of everyday life across Georgia.

“There have been more ads since the election,” said Quan Cummings, 28. Atlanta-born and raised artist Cummings said he voted broadly for Democrats in the first election and will vote again for Senator Warnock during the runoff . So the ads targeted to him didn’t do much to influence his decision-making. “I voted Democrat all the way and I will vote again for Warnock. Of course I will,” he said.

Speaking of the runoff, Hannah Hofstetter, 20, said: “I saw ads for both candidates this time, and they were on TV, on TikTok and on Youtube.”

“I get so many messages,” said Kay Phiri, 26, who added that she wasn’t sure she’d vote in the runoff, especially since the holiday season is such a busy one for her. “Last time there was a short wait – 30 minutes and it’s not far from where I live, but it doesn’t seem that important.” She said there was a chance she might decide to vote at the last minute: ” I could but I couldn’t. We will see.”

“I just don’t think I have to do it twice,” she said said.

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