Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 4, 2016

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Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 4, 2016

Peter Early was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 5, 1813 after being elected by the Georgia General Assembly.

John Clark was sworn in to the first of two two-year terms on November 5, 1819, again after election by the legislature.

Howell Cobb, who previously served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 5, 1852, having been elected by popular vote.

Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States and the first Republican to hold the office on November 6, 1860. By his inauguration in March, seven states had seceded.

On November 6, 1861, one year after Lincoln’s election, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens of Georgia were elected President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

Alexander Stephens was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 4, 1882; Stephens had earlier been elected Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

President Teddy Roosevelt left for a 17-day trip to Panama on November 6, 1906 to inspect work on the Panama Canal; he was the first President to take an official tour outside the continental United States.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who spent part of his youth in Augusta, Georgia and married Ellen Louise Axson, whom he met in Rome, Georgia, was elected President in a landslide victory on November 5, 1912.

Howard Carter found an entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamen on November 4, 1922.

On November 4, 1932 Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. campaigned on behalf of Democratic candidate for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his unprecedented third term as President of the United States on November 5, 1940.

Richard M. Nixon was elected President of the United States by a plurality vote on November 5, 1968.

A dam on the campus of Toccoa Falls Bible College burst on November 6, 1977 under pressure from heavy rains, killing 39 students and faculty.

On November 4, 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan was elected President, winning 489 electoral votes to 49 for incumbent Jimmy Carter.

Note on the electoral map in that clip, states that Reagan won were colored blue, and Georgia was a red state, going for Jimmy Carter.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA) resigned his office and his Congressional seat on November 6, 1998, effective in January 1999, despite having been reelected three days earlier.

On November 5, 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, beginning the modern era of Republican dominance of Georgia state politics.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President, becoming the first African-American elected to the position.

Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Wearing a campaign shirt may get you bounced from your voting precinct, and stickers on your car may require you to park further away from the building in which you vote under Georgia election rules.

There is a lot to keep in mind before you go vote. Things like campaign bumper stickers on your car are prohibited, and you will need to keep your car 150 feet away from the polling location if you have any campaign items on the vehicle. If it is any closer then it will be considered campaigning which is not legal.

Also, there have been problems that have come up concerning people coming into a polling location in Chatham County with t-shirts on promoting their candidate. This is not allowed, if you are wearing something of this nature, whether it be a button, hat, or any other paraphernalia, you will have to take it off or cover it up before coming within 150 feet of the polling location.

And there is should be no handing out of campaign literature, and that includes pamphlets, signs, and etc., within the 150 feet. Handing out snacks, food or drinks to individuals at polling places is highly discouraged as well.

Other things to keep in mind are you cannot bring your cell phone into the precinct, you are not supposed to talk in the polling location unless you have a problem, and you cannot hang out at poll after you vote.

I’ve never heard that you can’t take a cell phone into the precinct.

Georgia Code §21-2-413(e) states,

No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.

And §21-2-414(c) states,

No person shall use a cellular telephone or other electronic communication device once such person has been issued a ballot or, in the case of precincts using voting machines or electronic recording voting systems, once the person has entered the voting machine or voting enclosure or booth. This subsection shall not prohibit the use of cellular telephones by poll officials.

So, I’m certain you can take your cell phone into the precinct, you just can’t use it once you have been issued a ballot or have entered the voting machine area.

In DeKalb County, having a fussy baby got one mother bounced from advance voting.

Between 4-year-old Maggie, 2-year-old Casey and newborn Audrey, [Jennifer] Fair has a lot to juggle, which is why she went to downtown Decatur Thursday morning to cast her presidential election ballot early and avoid the crowds. But even though she was in sight of an empty voting machine, Fair left without casting her ballot.

Why? Blame 2-year-old Casey. That’s what DeKalb County did.

Fair had filled out her paperwork and handed over her driver’s license, completing the various hoops we all have to go through to vote these days. There were about five other people casting their ballots and machines were available. But the poll manager told Fair she would have to leave and come back when Casey was calm.

DeKalb County Elections Director Maxine Daniels said she looked into it and said she was told Casey was quite loud.

“Many of the other voters at the precinct were turning around at the booths and it was distracting them,” she said. Regardless, Daniels said Fair wasn’t prevented from voting, per se.

“She was told to take the child out and have the child calm down and she could come back,” she said.

Macon-Bibb County has rejected a number of mail-in absentee ballots for problems with the paper forms.

As of this week, about 175 voters had their initial absentee ballots not counted, although in some cases they later voted in person or requested a new ballot. At least 48 of them had their ballots rejected for not signing an oath, some of whom are unaware their votes were not cast.

People can apply for absentee ballots through Friday, but that will be “cutting it close,” since the ballots have to be returned to the elections office by Tuesday evening, Macon-Bibb Elections Superintendent Jeanetta Watson said.

It’s common for a batch of absentee ballots to be rejected, she said.

When an absentee ballot is not counted, then that registered voter has to restart the process of applying for a ballot. A letter is sent to those registered voters letting them know of the situation.

“What happens is we check the signature when it returns,” Watson said. “We can’t just open the ballot. They have to sign the outside of the ballot and verify that’s the person asking for the ballot.”

As of this week, about 175 voters had their initial absentee ballots not counted, although in some cases they later voted in person or requested a new ballot. At least 48 of them had their ballots rejected for not signing an oath, some of whom are unaware their votes were not cast.

People can apply for absentee ballots through Friday, but that will be “cutting it close,” since the ballots have to be returned to the elections office by Tuesday evening, Macon-Bibb Elections Superintendent Jeanetta Watson said.

Mark Niesse of the AJC looks at why it takes so long to count ballots on election night.

It’s because some of the votes — absentee ballots — are counted by hand, and even digital ballots must be delivered in-person to central election offices.

“Even though it’s on electronic ballots, you still have to go through the process of checks and balances,” said Michael Barnes, director for The Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University. “If the voters know the results before they go to bed, it’s been a good election.”

Because of concerns about hacking, ballots are stored on 48 megabyte rectangular memory cards — one for each of the 27,000 electronic voting machines across the state. These memory cards are different from the yellow cards given to voters, which contain a code that tells the voting machine to display the ballot but don’t store any vote information.

When polls close on Election Day, poll workers shut down each electronic voting machine and verify that three numbers match: the paper certificates voters fill out when they arrive, the electronic list of voters and the total ballots recorded by the machines manufactured by Diebold Election Systems.

The memory cards at each precinct are sealed in a bag, then driven from precincts to county election offices.

Once election officials have the memory cards in hand, they load them into a computer that counts every race.

Absentee voting by mail usually causes the most significant delays. Why? Because it’s done on paper ballots.

One at a time, these ballots are fed into optical scanning machines, a tedious effort that takes many hours, even with numerous scanners and election workers whittling down the piles.

“The whole process is more labor intensive,” said Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler. “We don’t expect to be finished until sometime in the wee hours of the night.”

Chatham County processed more than 1400 new voter registrations during the extended voter registration period.

A federal judge had ordered the county to reopen registration after voting rights advocates argued that the storm —including a mandatory evacuation and related power outages —had prevented would-be voters from signing up. Local government offices were closed in Chatham for what would have been the last six days of the voter registration period that ended Oct. 11.

Cobb County set a new record for most advance votes cast in a single day on Wednesday.

A total of 18,957 people turned up at Cobb’s polling places on Wednesday, marking the highest single-day turnout in the history of early voting in the county.

The previous high-water mark came on the final day of early voting in the 2012 election when 18,414 votes were cast in person.

Wednesday’s record may not last for long, however. Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections, predicted that turnout would be higher on Thursday — statistics for which were not available by press time — and that today would see a greater number still.

Indeed, eight of the county’s 11 polling places showed wait times of at least an hour at 2 p.m. Thursday, according to the Cobb Elections’ website. NorthStar Church on Blue Springs Road — situated about midway between Kennesaw and Acworth off Cobb Parkway — had estimated wait times of two to three hours.

In addition to the in-person votes, a total of 17,395 mail-in ballots had been returned to the county’s elections office by the end of the day Wednesday, according to Cobb Elections.

Chatham County voters are packing early voting facilities, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Sabrina German, interim director of Voter Registration, said Thursday 27,347 early votes had been cast by the end of the day Wednesday.

Charles Brown, who has been assisting at polling centers every election since 2012, says this is the most people he has seen show up to cast their ballots during early voting. Around noon Wednesday the line of voters had two sides of the Chatham County Citizens Service Center. According to Brown, that line was nothing compared to a few days earlier.

“The line went all the way to Eisenhower Drive Saturday,” Brown said.

Citizens are taking this election seriously in showing up to the polls, but there are still some concerns about preparation. Brown urges future voters to read the sample ballots before coming to the polls.

Residents 75 or older or those who are disabled can move to the front of voting lines. Also, voters can request an absentee ballot through Friday.

Thomas County has seen vigorous absentee and advance voting.

Thomas County Elections Supervisor Frank Scoggins said 8,500 early votes have been cast as of Wednesday afternoon.

The biggest spike in early voting was between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30, according to Scoggins.

The largest early voter turnout was Oct. 28, Scoggins said.

Along with the early voting numbers, over 1,000 absentee ballots have been cast.

According to Scoggins, all absentee ballots by mail must be returned to the elections office by the end of Election Day, on Nov. 8.

Garden City voters will decide whether to allow package alcohol sales in Tuesday’s election.

According to a sample ballot from the Chatham County Board of Elections, the referendum reads: “Shall the governing authority of Garden City, Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of malt beverages, wine, and distilled spirits on Sunday between the hours of 12:30 P.M. and 11:30 P.M.?”

Garden City council members in May approved putting the measure before the voters this year in an effort to attract new grocery stores to the city, according to Mayor Don Bethune.

Bethune said this week that it’s actually the second time the city has held a vote on Sunday alcohol sales. During the first referendum a few years back, the city voted along with the rest of Chatham’s municipalities on the measure, but turned it down. The mayor said that although he was one of the opponents of Sunday sales when it first went before the voters, he’ll support it this time.

“The fact is, everybody around us can sell beer and wine on Sundays, and in Garden City they cannot. … I don’t see the big difference in the fact that a person can’t buy it in our city and they can drive a mile down the road and buy it there. I will vote for it, because while I personally don’t condone it and I personally don’t do it, I need to do everything I can to get a grocery store in Garden City.” [said Bethune]

Marietta voters will see a non-binding referendum question about whether to term-limit members of City Council and the Mayor.

Democratic Senate candidate Jim Barksdale took his Tour de Lusion to Athens.

“We’re closing the gap every day,” Barksdale said in an interview just prior to his meeting at the Hi-Lo with local campaign workers and supporters. “I think people are getting to know me better.”

Barksdale touted the fact some polls have shown Isakson below the 50-percent-plus-one that he would need to avoid a runoff. One recent poll had Buckley at 11 percent, which could make him a spoiler in the race and send Barksdale and Isakson into a runoff that wouldn’t be held until Jan. 10 of next year.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds spoke to the MDJ about Amendment Two, the Safe Harbor Amendment.

Amendment 2 on the ballot, if approved by a majority of the voters, would require defendants found guilty of such crimes to pay an additional $2,500 fine on top of any prison time and other existing fines. The constitutional amendment has the approval of Vic Reynolds, Cobb’s district attorney.

“The very individuals who commit these crimes, the individuals who traffic women, who traffic young individuals both male and female, who take advantage of these people, who physically, sexually, mentally abuse them to the point where they become the victims of human trafficking and sexual crime, those are the very individuals who ought to pay for the victims’ getting rehabilitation,” Reynolds said.

While Reynolds said Cobb has no establishments that would be affected by the approved amendment, he said Cobb would likely be a recipient of monies from the fund.

“We will have victims from this county who absolutely will qualify for using that money to get services to help them get over any damage that was done to them,” Reynolds said. “If we have one human trafficking victim in this county, it’s one too many. But even the numbers I see up here, we certainly have more than that. We’re working a number of active cases, we’re prosecuting a number of active cases.”

The Georgia State Board of Education has recommended the removal of all five members of the Dooly County Board of Education.

The state’s top education panel made the decision in a unanimous voice vote Thursday night at its office in Atlanta.

“In the opinion of the board, it came down to governance,” said Georgia Board of Education Chairman Mike Royal.

The state school board’s recommendation now heads to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who will decide whether to remove any or all of the board members.

Much of the seven hours of testimony focused on the lower-than-average scores accreditation agency AdvancED gave Dooly schools on governance and leadership.

In July 2015, AdvancED sent the Dooly County school system a letter indicating that the system had been put “under review,” which is the last step before losing accreditation. That downgrade is part of what triggered the state hearing.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle spoke to the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce pre-legislative breakfast.

Health care, education and transportation infrastructure will be key areas of focus in the upcoming Georgia legislative session, according to lawmakers at the annual Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Breakfast.

Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was the keynote speaker and elaborated on the importance of an educated workforce.

“Just last year we commissioned a study, last year there were 20,000 jobs that were available in the state of Georgia, in the health care sector that required a two-year degree, we only graduated 5,000 individuals to fill those positions,” Cagle said. “We graduated 6,000associate degree individuals with a liberal arts degree and of those 6,000 there were 500 jobs available. The point I make is that we have to go make sure that we are aligning education with the workforce.”

Cagle also addressed plans to implement new health care legislation recently passed in the last session called 180 Health Care.

“It’s a tax credit that really allows individuals like you, as well as this is across our state, to make contributions to these little hospitals,” Cagle said. “We believe this can help structure the right kind of future for many of our rural hospitals across our state.”

House District 121 Rep. Barry Fleming also addressed health care and spoke about his plans to address flaws in the current Certificate of Need process that he said is keeping the state’s largest county without a hospital from acquiring one.

“Our county commissioners, led by chairman Ron Cross, had a good idea. They recognized Columbia County was the largest county in the state of Georgia, almost 150,000 people now, without a hospital. So they put it on the ballot and the voters approved the use of potentially millions of dollars to help bring a hospital to Columbia County, right there where Mayor (Gary) Jones is in Grovetown,” Fleming said. “The commission approved it, the voters approved it, it went to Atlanta, where the state agencies that regulate the Certificate of Need approved it and now a lawsuit is keeping the largest county in the state without a hospital from getting one.”

Another focus area, Fleming said, will be gambling and casinos in Georgia to fund the HOPE scholarship.

Georgia’s Rural Hospital Tax Credit was also discussed at the Bainbridge Rotary.

Memorial Hospital and Manor CEO Billy Walker explained the program at Rotary this week.

He said that individual taxpayers can receive a tax credit against Georgia income taxes for contributions made to a qualified rural hospital organization of 70 percent of the amount contributed, or $2,500 per tax year. Married filing jointly, taxpayers can receive a tax credit of 70 percent of the amount contributed, or $5,000 per tax year, whichever is less.

In order to qualify, a hospital must be in a community with a population under 35,000, providing patient services, participating in Medicaid and Medicare, and submit a five-year plan that details their financial viability and stability, including a narrative of the challenges they face and how they will use contributions to address them.

Walker said Memorial Hospital is one of 49 hospitals in the state that has been identified as qualified to participate in the program.

He said the cap on what each hospital can receive from the tax credits each year is $4 million each calendar year. The bill requires hospitals to use donations for the provision of health-care related services. Those uses include, operating expenses, payments on short-term or long-term debt, purchase of capital equipment, renovations or improvements to healthcare facilities, etc. etc.

The Georgia State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines held a public hearing in Evans.

Commission co-chairman Rep. Bill Hitchens, of Rincon,said the commission was formed this year after a judgment halted a controversial pipeline project by the Kinder Morgan company along the Savannah River

After the moratorium Gov. Nathan Deal established the pipeline commission made up of three House of Representative members, including local House District 121 Rep. Barry Fleming; three Senate members; the director of the Environmental Protection Division; a member of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs; and five other members each representing industry, local government, business, agriculture and conservation.

Hitchens said it was not the first time such a commission had been assembled, citing a similar circumstance in the early 1990s involving a pecan farmer from Peach County .

Hitchens said the commission has until July 1, 2017, to work up new legislation to present to the General Assembly.

Gwinnett County courts are rolling out text notifications to notify residents about jury duty selection.

County officials are launching a new text-based notification system for potential jurors with TextGov LLC. Residents will receive a text message to let them know they have jury duty coming up. The county will also send jurors nightly text messages during their week of service to let them know whether or not they need to come to the courthouse the next day.

“Jurors have been asking for an easier, more convenient way to get their juror status,” Gwinnett County Courts Jury Manager Abby Carter. “With our new text messaging system, jurors receive proactive text messages without having to call or check the website – and they love it.”

The text-based service is intended to be a supplement to existing web and IVR-based systems that are already used to let jurors know when they need to be at the courthouse.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News will speak at the Georgia Christian School dinner in Valdosta tonight.

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