Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2020

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is not considering further tightening COVID-19 orders, according to WABE.

“I don’t see us imposing any new restrictions with the numbers we’re seeing right now,” he said at an economic development event Tuesday. “I do not want to go back and start shutting things down again.”

This week Kemp renewed his executive order maintaining coronavirus restrictions on businesses and a shelter-in-place mandate on vulnerable populations through mid-September.

He said Georgia has “made great progress” but he and health officials will be “very cautious” and watch the numbers for the next two weeks as more schools re-open before deciding whether to loosen restrictions after that executive order expires.

Earlier this week, Governor Kemp announced two judicial appointments.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [] announced his appointments of Connie Williford and Gregory Voyles to fill vacancies on the Superior Courts of the Macon and Southern Judicial Circuits, respectively.

Williford will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Verda Colvin to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Macon Judicial Circuit is comprised of Bibb, Crawford, and Peach counties. Voyles will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable James Tunison, Jr. The Southern Judicial Circuit is comprised of Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes, and Thomas counties.

Connie Williford holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of West Georgia and law degree from Mercer University. In law school, she interned for the U.S. Middle District of Georgia and worked as a law clerk at the Coweta County Solicitor’s Office. As an attorney, she previously worked at Reynolds & McArthur and later founded her own firm, The Law Offices of Connie L. Williford. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, Bootle Inn of Court, Macon Bar Association, Georgia Association of Women Lawyers where she serves on its Foundation Board, and Georgia State Bar Family Law Section. In 2020 Williford was named Macon Bar Association’s “Lawyer of the Year,” and she was recently awarded the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service. Williford and her family reside in Macon.

Gregory Voyles received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Valdosta State University and law degree from Florida State University. He previously served as an associate attorney with William E. Moore, Jr., P.C., a partner at Moore & Voyles, P.C., and as the owner and sole practitioner of Gregory A. Voyles, P.C. He is a member of the Georgia Bar Association, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Georgia Association of Defense Lawyers, and Valdosta Bar Association. Voyles and his family live in Hahira.

I note that “is comprised of” comprises incorrect grammar.

Floyd County government was partially shut down by a different kind of virus, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The county has shut down much of their computer network after a virus hit the system over the weekend. At this point they’re working to restore functionality by restoring system backups.

After discovering the virus Monday morning, county information technology director La Sonja Holcomb advised County Manager Jamie McCord to shut down the servers to prevent the virus from spreading to more computers.

They first got the 911 Center back online and are now focusing on getting the Floyd County Superior Court system back up as well as the Floyd County Tax Commissioner’s Office, McCord said.

CNN reports that the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office may have incorrectly removed 200,000 voters from the voter rolls.

The ACLU of Georgia released the report which was conducted by the Palast Investigative Fund, a nonpartisan group that focuses on data journalism, on Wednesday.

For the report, Palast hired expert firms to conduct an Advanced Address List Hygiene, a method of residential address verification, to review 313,243 names that were removed from the state’s voter rolls in late 2019. Their findings claim that 63.3% of voters had not, in fact, moved and were purged in error.

About 313,000 voters were removed from the list, or about 4% of all registered voters in the state, at that time. The “inactive” voters were marked for removal after failing to respond to a pre-addressed, postage paid confirmation card within 30 days; the card asked voters to confirm or update their information. A prior lawsuit over the 313,000 voters from Fair Fight Action ended up forcing the state to restore 22,000 of the voter registrations until December 2021.

The report outlined three ways the state of Georgia verifies a person’s address: a form of the National Change of Address registry of the US Postal Service, returned mail, or failure to vote in two federal election cycles combined with a failure to return a postcard that is used to confirm an address.

Keith Higgins will be on the November ballot as an independent candidate for District Attorney in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, according to The Brunswick News.

Higgins needed 3,526 signatures from registered voters — reduced from 5,038 due to the COVID-19 outbreak — in the five-county district, which is made up of Glynn, Camden, Wayne, Appling and Jeff Davis counties, to be included on the ballot as an independent candidate.

He exceeded that by more than double, accruing 8,500 signatures of which 6,500 had been verified as of Wednesday, according to a statement from Higgins’ campaign.

The outbreak of coronavirus in March hurt campaigning efforts by effectively ruling out rallies and other large gatherings. Higgins garnered signatures primarily via volunteers at smaller, outdoor events, throughout neighborhoods, and among civic groups, according to the campaign.

Higgins, a Brunswick defense attorney and former assistant district attorney, first announced his campaign in January.

He will face Republican Johnson in the general election on Nov. 3. Early voting starts Oct. 12. The last day to register to vote in the election is Oct. 5.

The Brunswick Judicial Circuit comprises Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis, and Wayne Counties.

The Chatham County Board of Elections began its hand recount of votes in the Democratic Primary Runoff for House District 163, according to WTOC.

Anne Allen Westbrook, the candidate who was awarded the recount by a Chatham County Superior Court judge, said “Still not entirely sure what to expect. The room is very tight, and that concerns me a little. But I’m here to do as good a job as we can and hopefully get as much transparency as we can in the process.”

Westbrook said she’s plans on sitting in to watch the recount, which is anticipated to last three days.

Derek Mallow, who edged Westbrook in the the 163rd Georgia House race during the August 11th runoff by 20 votes, will also be watching the hand recount along with his supporters.

[Elections Supervisor Russell] Bridges explained there will be three groups of four people reviewing 30 ballots at a time. Two of the four team members will be appointed by the elections superintendent, and one from Westbrook’s team and one from Mallow’s will fill out the rest and serve as a vote review panel.

Bridges explained to the packed room, “You have to understand, is hand recounts, hand counts of ballots are notoriously problematic. If we just sat here and did tick marks they would probably have to do it two or three times until they came up to a total. So what we tried to do is to build a documentation and audit trail into this process to minimize the handling in the event there’s a discrepancy.”

The Floyd County Board of Elections is considering a third party vendor to help process absentee ballots, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“There has been an organized effort on the Secretary of State’s part to make life as easy as possible for us because they expect a large amount of voters to want absentee ballots,” Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady said.

While the office hasn’t finalized anything yet, the Secretary of State’s office is looking into using Runbeck Election Services to handle the absentee ballot process for the county elections office in November.

The vendor was used for the June 9 primary by the Secretary of State’s office to send out applications and ballots to voters.

If they do vote to go ahead and hire the vendor, there would be a charge for the elections office.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised nearly $5 million dollars in Augusta, according to the AJC.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised more than $4.7 million in the month of August, which his campaign said was the highest single-month fundraising total for any U.S. Senate contender in Georgia history.

Ossoff disclosed the fundraising total on Thursday as outside groups intensify efforts to sway the race for U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s seat.

The Senate Leadership Fund, aligned with Senate Republicans, has spent roughly $5 million to support Perdue and is expected to pour in at least another $13.5 million through the fall.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) campaigned in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Doug Collins visited Savannah on Wednesday, speaking to the Skidaway Island Republican Club and touring the Daniel Defense manufacturing facility in Bryan County.

Collins, a four-term congressman from Gainesville, is campaigning across South Georgia ahead of the Nov. 3 election. He is one of 21 candidates for the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson late last year due to health reasons.

Fifth Congressional District voters can head to the polls to select a short-term placeholder to finish the term of Congressman John Lewis, according to 11Alive.

Voters in the 5th Congressional District will be eligible to vote two different times over the next few weeks for a successor to Rep. Lewis.

Lewis died on July 17. Three days later, on July 20, Democrats named state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace Lewis on the November 3 General Election ballot, where she will face Republican nominee Angela Stanton King.

The winner of that election will take office for the new congressional term on January 3.

The special election taking place on September 29 is designed to fill the remainder of Lewis’s current term.

If a candidate gets a majority of votes in that election, the winner would serve in Congress for about 96 days. If not, there’s a December 1 runoff election. In that case, the winner would only serve for 33 days.

The Judicial Nominating Commission recommended two lawyers for a seat on the Alcovy Judicial Circuit.

The state Judicial Nominating Commission today, Sept. 2, recommended Covington attorney Hillary W. Edgar and Flint Judicial Circuit prosecutor Cheveda McCamy of Covington for appointment by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Kemp will have the final selection for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Superior Court judgeship left vacant by [Horace] Johnson’s July 1 death.

McCamy narrowly missed out on a spot in an Aug. 11 runoff election for another Alcovy Superior Court judgeship now held by Eugene Benton.

The Alcovy Judicial Circuit comprises Newton and Walton Counties.

The Muscogee County School District approved a furlough plan for employees to address budget issues, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported in July that MCSD superintendent David Lewis recommended the furloughs because the school district faced a shortfall of $16.7 million from state funding cuts in Georgia after the COVID-19 pandemic crashed the economy.

The furloughs would amount to a pay cut of 3% to 3.5% for the average salary, Lewis said then. When employees are furloughed, they aren’t paid but are allowed to return to work after the required time off, as opposed to layoffs, when they lose their jobs.

In solidarity with the employees, the board members decided to have their $12,000 annual salary reduced by 10% for the 2020-21 school year.

The University of Georgia reports more than 800 COVID-19 cases, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The number of University of Georgia students testing positive for COVID-19 sharply increased to nearly 800 over the past week, the university revealed Wednesday. In addition to 798 students, 19 staff and four faculty members reported having COVID through the university’s “DawgCheck” reporting system between Aug. 24-30.

UGA set aside 500 rooms for quarantine, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The spaces set aside include 99 rooms in UGA residence halls and 195 rooms in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education hotel, located on South Lumpkin Street.

In addition to the residence hall and Georgia Center rooms, UGA has arranged for 100 rooms from “a local private vendor” and is “finalizing arrangements” for 100 more from another vendor, according to the UGA announcement.

The university is telling students they should go home to quarantine if they test positive for COVID but is making space available on campus for those who cannot go home.

The university did not respond to a request for the number of students who are in quarantine this week.

A Braselton assisted living facility is allowing safe hugs for their patients, according to the Gainesville Times.

The [Oaks at Braselton] assisted living facility closed its doors to visitors during the beginning of the pandemic and only started offering socially distanced outdoor visits in August.

Erika Fenley, wellness director of The Oaks at Braselton’s memory care unit, said the “hugging booth” was erected outside the building Wednesday, Aug. 26. She said the idea sparked after seeing a similar structure on Facebook. Soon afterward, Erika asked her husband, Jason Fenley, to build one.

Not wanting to back down from a challenge, Jason said he set to work constructing a hugging booth from a shower curtain, plastic tarp and wood. Erika said the required gloves for the structure — which the staff dispose of after every visit — are used in veterinarian clinics.

Summer Wilkie, the assisted living facility’s lifestyle director, said she gathered several residents to help decorate the plastic wall with laminated hearts. Each day since Aug. 26, she has helped schedule hugging booth visits with families.

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