Georgia polls close after bitter runoff campaigns, fierce get-out-the-vote efforts

Georgia voters turned out in record numbers for the runoffs, which will determine Senate control. With ABC News projecting a win for at least one Democratic challenger, “Nightline” is on the ground.
8:20 | 01/06/21

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Transcript for Georgia polls close after bitter runoff campaigns, fierce get-out-the-vote efforts
Reporter: With the nation watching, they are counting the votes in Georgia that will decide if Republicans can keep control of the U.S. Senate and put a thorn in the incoming president's agenda. 18-year-old Christopher Harrell was voting for the first time. Today, I get to vote for this is an amazing day. Reporter: He voted in Henry county, home to nearly 235,000 people. Everybody voting, that's the big thing. It's good to voice your opinion, voice who you feel like should be the right person to vote for. Reporter: Harrell says he voted for the blue team, Jon ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are trying to replace Republican senators David perdue and Kelly Loeffler. But for him this is about much more. We have ancestors that have fought for this cause, civil rights, the right for to us vote. The fact that we have this chance now to vote is huge. Reporter: Across the state, Georgia's voters were turning out like never before for this runoff election that will determine Joe Biden's presidency is met with roadblocks or smooth sailing. It's important for them to realize what's at stake today, our freedom, our liberties, to save America. Reporter: Senator David perdue in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus. The other candidates spent the day out getting supporters to vote. Georgia voters have never had more power than you have today. The future of the country is on the ballot here in Georgia today. Looks like you're ready to win an election! Reporter: The election results could take days. More than 3 million people here voted early. That's 40% of registered voters. And 1 million more than the total turnout for the last runoff in 2008. A significant part of the vote was by mail, and the election in November underlined that Democrats are much more likely to vote by mail. Democrats have been doing whatever they can to bring in new voters, even voters who didn't vote in November, and try to bank those votes, get those people to vote early, vote absentee, try to find a way to build up an advantage knowing that Republicans would do better on election day. Reporter: Republicans need a strong turnout to keep their two senate seats and control of the U.S. Senate. But many Republicans in Georgia are concerned that the Republican in the white house is hurting their chances. That the president's constant made-up claims of voter fraud and rigged elections may have kept some Republican voters from showing up to vote. There's no way we lost Georgia, there's no way. Rigged. That was a rigged election. Reporter: Mike Hawley, Rachel Scott heard this firsthand. Many of us Georgians have lost faith in trusting the electoral process in our state, which as a Georgian I never thought would happen. I was reluctant not to vote, I was thinking, is this going to happen again? Frustrating. Very frustrating. But I still believe in the democratic process, that we have a right to vote. Reporter: State election officials who are all Republicans are telling their voters that this election is safe and secure. The secretary wants me to make clear that everybody's vote is going to count. Reporter: After losing the state to Joe Biden by 11,779 votes, president trump has worked nonstop to try and overturn the election results. His latest high-profile attempt, calling Georgia's secretary of state, Brad raffensperger, and asking him to somehow give him more votes than Joe Biden. Look, Brad, I got to get -- I have to find 12,000 votes, and I have them times a lot. Reporter: But raffensperger, who received death threats for refusing to overturn Georgia's legal and certified election, has held firm. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated. Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have, the data you have is wrong. President trump is at war with top Republican officials in the state. It has been inconvenient at best, at worst, highly problematic, for these senators to navigate the fact that the president is on the record saying the governor and secretary of state, both Republicans, are part of a conspiracy. Reporter: Former Georgia assemblyman Steven Alison's group Americans for prosperity action has been hard at work since November. He says his team knocked on a million doors trying to get Republican voters to the polls. We actually still have people knocking on doors. We are playing it till the very last hour, trying to get people back out there. Reporter: Alison says he's sure despite all the drama, conservative voters are going to win the day. I think a lot of people are voting for their beliefs and their value systems first. I think there are people that are concerned about what is going on. But am I worried about it? No, I have a lot of faith, and I think people are going to get out. We're hoping for a successful re-election for senator perdue. Here we are at the black bus America. Election day in Georgia, a day folks are waiting for. Reporter: The get out the vote effort was huge. It included the work of people like cliff Albright. There's so much at stake. That choice that we made, that Georgia shockingly played a big part in, flipping for the first time in over two decades. That race, that decision, that result can't be fully realized and actualized if we don't also get change at the senate level. Reporter: Albright, cofounder of black voters matter, a group focused on engaging African-American voters nationwide. What's been happening isn't a it's a new kind of community, it's a new kind of state. In changing Georgia, in changing the south, we change this country. Because as goes the south, so goes this country. Reporter: He and his team drove a bus through Georgia's blackest counties. Part of the reason we called it black voters matter and not black votes matter is because there's a lot of people that care about black votes that really don't care that much about black voters. You can't just show up in a black community two weeks before a general election because you want to flip Georgia or flip Florida. Reporter: One of their stops was Fulton county, the largest county in the state, and nearly 45% black. South Fulton is great. A lot of energy. If old national and south Fulton is any example or bellwether, there's going to be big turnout. Reporter: Fulton went heavily for Biden in November. Biden won because you had over a decade of civil society doing the grassroots mobilization and work to deal with the barriers of voter suppression. Reporter: The president talked plenty of trash about Fulton county, which includes Atlanta, in his phone call with Georgia's secretary of state. Fulton county is totally corrupt. Because they cheated like nobody's ever cheated before. They're linking this trope of criminality and deceit with blackness. It is a tried and true political ploy that sees that all that is wrong, the threat to democracy, is coming from black people. Reporter: This runoff election turned into one of the most bitter and polarizing elections in the state's history. These candidates are tearing the tar off each other. It has been very, very personal, highly vitriolic, and in your face for voters. Jon ossoff's China scandal keeps getting worse. Reporter: The attack ads were inescapable. Radical Raphael Warnock compared Israel to a racist country. Reporter: On social media, on television. It's not just that you're a crook, senator. As Kelly Loeffler downplays the threat publicly, she makes sale after sale. Reporter: The cost of it all, more than $500 million in smears and name calling. Many voters in Georgia are ready for the whole bitter campaign to be over. What do you hope happens tonight? I hope for a peaceful, organized, and respectful I think a lot of people in here, no matter what color, race, creed you are -- I mean, we're all Americans. That's what really matters. Reporter: But they may not get their wish. Trump supporters are preparing for battle in Washington, D.C. As the president and his supporters in congress try to overturn the election one last time. And so the election that seems to never end carries on for at least one more day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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