Georgia vote: Raphael Warnock wins his race, becoming state’s first Black senator as Democrats step closer to Senate control

Georgia officials have started counting ballots as polls close across the state in two critical races.

Here’s what you need to know.

What are these votes for?

There are two Senate run-off elections being held. The votes are leftovers from the November general election, when none of the candidates hit the 50 per cent threshold.

Why are they important?

Democrats need to win both of the votes to seize the Senate majority – and, with it, control of the new Congress when Biden takes office in two weeks.

Who are the candidates?

In one contest, Republican Kelly Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state’s governor, faces Democrat Raphael Warnock, 51, who serves as the senior pastor of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr grew up and preached.

The other election pits 71-year-old former business executive David Perdue, a Republican who held his Senate seat until his term expired on Sunday, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist. At just 33 years old, Mr Ossoff would be the Senate’s youngest member.

When will we get the results?

We could know the winners late on Tuesday evening in the US (early Wednesday in the UK).