: As polls close in Georgia, wait starts for outcome in crucial Senate runoff elections

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Polling stations closed at 7 p.m. Eastern Tuesday after Georgians flocked to them to cast their ballots — and now the waiting really starts for the outcome of the state’s two Senate runoff elections that will decide the balance of power in Washington.

Analysts have described the Georgia contests as “about as close as you can get,” and there are expectations that the winners won’t be declared in the initial hours after voting has stopped.

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said Tuesday morning that the races aren’t likely to be called on Tuesday night.

“Depends how close it is but most likely it’ll probably be tomorrow morning. It really depends how many absentee ballots,” Raffensperger said in a Fox News interview.

See: Georgia voters head to polls in pivotal runoffs — but it may be a long wait until winners are known

Also read: In Georgia’s Chatham County, voters march to the polls on Election Day

Betting markets and polls on Tuesday were signaling some confidence in the prospects of Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, as they face off against incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Republicans already control 50 seats following November’s elections and can remain the majority party in the 100-seat Senate by winning just one of the two Georgia races. They then would provide a check on policies backed by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic-run House of Representatives.

All voting didn’t stop in Georgia at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A court order, for example, extended voting for about half an hour at two polling locations in Chatham County, according to local news reports. In addition, Georgia law states that any voter in line by 7 p.m. gets to cast a ballot even if it ends up happening after that time.

The runoff elections in Georgia have the potential to inject volatility into the stock market SPX, +0.71%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.55% closed modestly higher Tuesday, after suffering its biggest drop since late October on Monday.

Now read: The fate of value stocks rests on the Georgia Senate races, JPMorgan strategists say

Also see: Georgians blitzed by runoff-election ads, as Democrats deploy Barack Obama and Republicans counter with Herschel Walker