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Alabama

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are held on Tuesday of the fourth week after the primary. Pursuant to the Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Alabama uses instant runoff voting, also known as ranked-choice voting, for certain voters.

Statutory Text

When necessary, as provided in this chapter, a second or runoff primary election shall be held on the fourth Tuesday following the primary election. Any second primary shall be held by the same election officers who held the first primary election, and be held at the same places as the first primary election. Ala. Code § 17-13-3.

(b) If no candidate receives a majority of all of the votes cast in such primary election for any one office or offices for the nomination to which there were more than two candidates, then there shall be held a second primary election on the fourth Tuesday following the primary election, and the chair of the state executive committee shall certify to the Secretary of State, immediately upon the completion of such canvass, the names of the two candidates of the party to receive the highest number of votes in the first primary election for such office or offices, except county officers, and who are to be voted for in the second primary election. Ala. Code § 17-13-18.

In a primary election or second primary election, this section shall apply only to voters who are voting by absentee ballot pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act in any county or portion thereof in which the nomination for a federal office other than the office of President which is contested by three or more candidates. Ala. Code § 17-13-8.1.

Arkansas

A runoff between the two top candidates is required if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the primary. Runoff elections are normally held three weeks after the primary.

Statutory Text

If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast for an office or position at the preferential primary for a political party, the names of the two (2) candidates of the political party who received the highest number of votes for an office or a position shall be placed upon the ballots at the general primary election. Ark. Code Ann. § 7-7-304.

(a) The general primary election shall be held:

(1) For years in which the office of Governor will appear on the ballot at the general election, on the third Tuesday in June preceding the general election; and

(2) For years in which the office of President of the United States will appear on the ballot at the general election, on the Tuesday four (4) weeks following the preferential primary election. Ark. Code Ann. § 7-7-203.

Georgia

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are held 28 days after the primary.

Statutory Text

In instances where no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, a runoff primary, special primary runoff, runoff election, or special election runoff between the candidates receiving the two highest numbers of votes shall be held. Unless such date is postponed by a court order, such runoff shall be held on the twenty-eighth day after the day of holding the preceding general or special primary or general or special election. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-501.

Mississippi

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are normally held three weeks after the primary.

Statutory Text

The first primary shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of August preceding any regular or general election; and the second primary shall be held three (3) weeks thereafter. The candidate that receives a majority of the votes cast in the election shall be the party nominee. If no candidate receives a majority vote at the election, then the two (2) candidates who receive the highest number of votes shall have their names placed on the ballot for the second primary election to be held three (3) weeks later. The candidate who receives the most votes in the second primary election shall be the party nominee. However, if no candidate receives a majority vote at the first primary, and there is a tie in the election of those receiving the next highest vote, then those candidates receiving the next highest vote and the candidate receiving the highest vote shall have their names placed on the ballot for the second primary election to be held three (3) weeks later, and whoever receives the most votes cast in the second primary election shall be the party nominee. Miss. Code. Ann. § 23-15-191.

North Carolina

A runoff, called a “second primary” in state statute, is not required if the winning candidate gets a “substantial” plurality—defined as 30% of the vote plus one. A runoff still is not required unless the second-highest vote-getter calls for a runoff. Runoff elections are normally held seven weeks after the primary.

Statutory Text

(b) Right to Demand Second Primary—If an insufficient number of aspirants receive a substantial plurality of the votes cast for a given office or group of offices in a primary, a second primary, subject to the conditions specified in this section, shall be held N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 163-111.

(e) Date of Second Primary; Procedures.—If a second primary is required under the provisions of this section, the appropriate board of elections, State or county, shall order that it be held 10 weeks after the first primary if any of the offices for which a second primary is required are for a candidate for the office of United States Senate or member of the United States House of Representatives. Otherwise, the second primary shall be held seven weeks after the first primary. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 163-111.

Oklahoma

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are held in August.

Statutory Text

If at any Primary Election no candidate for the nomination for office of any political party receives a majority of all votes cast for all candidates of such party for the office, no candidate shall be nominated by such party for the office, but the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes at such election shall be placed on the official ballot as candidates for such nomination at a Runoff Primary Election to be held on the fourth Tuesday of August in the same year. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, § 1-103.

South Carolina

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are normally held two weeks after the primary.

Statutory Text

No candidate shall be declared nominated in a first primary election unless he received a majority of the votes cast for the office for which he was a candidate. The question of a majority vote shall be determined by the number of votes cast for any particular office and not by the whole number of votes cast in the primary. S.C. Code Ann. § 7-17-600.

A second primary, when necessary, must be held two weeks after the first and is subject to the rules governing the first primary. In all second primaries the candidate receiving the largest number of votes cast for a given office must be declared the nominee for the office whether or not he has received a majority of the votes cast for that office, and when there are several candidates for several different offices, then the several candidates receiving the largest number of votes for the several positions are considered as nominated for the offices whether or not they received a majority of the votes cast. S.C. Code Ann. § 7-13-50.

South Dakota

Primary runoffs are only conducted in federal and gubernatorial elections that include three or more candidates. A runoff is not required if any candidate wins 35% of the votes. Ties between second-place candidates can result in three candidates entering the runoff primary.

Statutory Text

If no candidate for United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, or Governor in a race involving three or more candidates receives thirty-five percent of the votes of the candidate’s party, a runoff election shall be held eight weeks from the date of the first primary election. At the runoff election the only persons voted for shall be the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes at the first election. If there is a tie for second place in the first primary election and there is no tie for first place, all tying second-place candidates must be placed along with the first-place candidate on the ballot for the runoff election. The runoff election must be held in the same manner as the first election. However, if the runoff election does not have a federal race, the electronic ballot marking system is not required, and hand-counted ballots may be used. The person receiving the highest number of votes at the runoff election is nominated as the candidate for the party. S.D. Codified Laws § 12-6-51.1.

Texas

If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff between the top two candidates is required. Runoff elections are normally held six weeks after the primary.

Statutory Text

Except as otherwise provided by this code, to receive a political party’s nomination, a candidate in a primary election must receive a majority of the total number of votes received by all the candidates for the nomination. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 172.003.

(a) If no candidate for nomination to a particular office receives the vote required for nomination in the general primary election, a runoff primary election shall be held to determine the nomination. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 172.004.

(a) For a runoff primary election, the voter registrar shall make appropriate notations to indicate the preceding party primary for which the voter was accepted for voting, if any. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 172.125.

(b) An election officer at a runoff primary election polling place shall determine whether the name of a voter offering to vote is noted on the list as having been accepted for voting in another party’s primary. If the voter’s name is so noted, the voter may not be accepted for voting at the runoff unless the voter executes an affidavit stating that the voter did not vote in the primary or participate in a convention of another party during the same voting year. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 172.125.

(a) The general primary election date is the first Tuesday in March in each even-numbered year. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 41.007.

(b) The runoff primary election date is the fourth Tuesday in May following the general primary election. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 41.007.

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The NCSL elections team provides a variety of resources on election issues, including but not limited to 50-state surveys on state laws, legislation databases, a monthly elections newsletter, enactment summaries and other publications.