Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 9, 2020

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Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 9, 2020

The Continental Congress renamed their new nation the United States of America, from the previously used “United Colonies” on September 9, 1776.

On September 9, 1933, WSB Radio in Atlanta was upgraded to broadcasting via 50,000 watt transmitter. The first broadcast included Will Rogers and a letter from President Roosevelt.

On September 9, 1939, an audience at the Fox Theater in Riverside, California watched a preview of Gone With the Wind.

The first actual computer bug was identified on September 9, 1947, when Grace Hopper removed a moth from an electrical relay in the Harvard Mark II computer. Hopper received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale in 1934 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half in the United Stated Navy. USS Hopper (DDG-70) was named after her.

On September 9, 1954, Marvin Griffin won the Democratic Primary election over Melvin Thompson. Below is a photo of the monument to Gov. Griffin in Bainbridge.

Marvin Griffin Monument

Elvis Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956.

Happy 78th birthday to former Congressman John Linder. Linder served in the State House from 1974-1980 and 1982-90. In 1990 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against incumbent Democrat Ben Jones; in 1992, after redistricting, Linder was elected to Congress from the 7th District and served until his retirement after the 2010 election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting has opened in the Fifth Congressional District for a placeholder to serve out the remainder of Congressman John Lewis’s term, according to CBS46.

Early voters will be able to cast their ballot to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant after the death of Congressman John Lewis.

Lewis died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He represented the district since 1987.

The Georgia Democratic Party selected State Sen. Nikema Williams to represent the democratic party on the ballot in November for the district. The winner in the November race will serve a full two year term.

Early voting for the Special Election runs from Tuesday, September 8 to Friday, September 25 from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday, September 19, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Click here for Fulton County early voting locations.

Click here for DeKalb County early voting locations.

Click here for Clayton County early voting locations.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has appealed a federal court ruling ordering the counting of all ballots received within three days of the November election if postmarked election day or earlier, according to the AJC.

The case will be considered by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross last week nullified a Georgia law requiring absentee ballots to be received at county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Attorneys for Raffensperger wrote that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t justify altering election rules so near the time when voters will begin receiving absentee ballots late this month.

“Changing the deadline to return absentee ballots will introduce delay and confusion in the election process. This, in turn, risks delaying the Electoral College process and disenfranchising voters in Georgia, including preventing voters from casting ballots in runoff elections,” the attorneys wrote in a motion Friday to stay Ross’ preliminary injunction while the appeal is pending.

If her decision stands, it could result in tens of thousands more absentee ballots being counted. Ross ordered election officials to accept absentee ballots if they’re postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered up to three days afterward.

The Secretary of State’s office also announced that more than 1000 Georgians voted twice in the June 9 Primary Elections, according to the Forsyth County News.

At a news conference, Raffensperger claimed investigators have identified 1,000 alleged instances in which Georgia voters intentionally cast ballots twice: once via absentee and once in person.

He did not provide evidence Tuesday as to how his office might know for certain that 1,000 people intentionally voted twice, other than to state that “we know one person was bragging about it down in Long County.”

Reports emerged last week of alleged voting irregularities including double voting in a local Long County election for judge.

Raffensperger said around 150,000 voters applied for absentee ballots for the June primaries, then showed up to vote in person. Of those, he claimed 1,000 voters intentionally cast an absentee ballot before voting in person without first canceling their absentee ballots on Election Day.

“We’ll be investigating all 1,000 (double-voting allegations) and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” Raffensperger said.

The Bulloch County Elections Department is preparing for the November general election, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“Without question, we face some challenges we haven’t seen before, but the (June) primary and (August) runoff gave us some hands-on training that was very helpful,” said Bulloch County elections Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones.

In addition to the huge increase in actual voting a presidential election always brings, the COVID-19 pandemic has created issues that make ensuring health safety for all voters and elections workers a top priority. And first up will be managing the early voting process.

While Jones isn’t making any predictions about county voters setting a record for early voting this year, she is confident that casting votes via absentee ballots will see a massive increase.

“We have received 4,641 absentee ballot requests (as of Sept. 2) for the presidential election,” Jones said. “I expect that number to increase substantially.”

In-person early voting will begin in Bulloch County and across Georgia on Oct. 12. The county elections office on North Main Street will be open for voting 8 a.m.–5 p.m. every weekday through Oct. 30 and on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Floyd County Elections Board is also preparing for November, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Chair Tom Rees said that Dominion, the company that manufactures the equipment, is looking at sending their own tech teams to each county in Georgia, but the board wants to make sure Floyd County precincts will be covered no matter what they decide.

Also, training will be mandatory for both new poll workers and veteran poll workers before early voting starts. The training will be separate for the two groups and will, hopefully, clear up any issues the workers had during previous elections, Rees said.

The Floyd County Elections Office has already submitted an application in hopes of adding more drop boxes for the November election. Right now, there are two available: one in front of the elections office on Fourth Avenue and one in front of the Rome-Floyd County Library on Riverside Parkway.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (R-Carrollton) has endorsed Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta), according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The endorsement by Butler, a Republican, marked the latest development in the hustle for high-profile supporters between Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, a well-known Republican in the state who is also vying for the senate seat.

In a statement, Butler called Loeffler a “proven conservative champion” and highlighted her conservative stances on gun ownership, immigration and her background as an Atlanta businesswoman.

Butler’s endorsement builds on her base of prominent state Republican backers including Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. She has also drawn support from many national Republicans including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) has received a number of endorsements from state legislators since House Speaker David Ralston announced his endorsement, according to the AJC.

The four-term congressman on Tuesday rolled out a slate of 45 supporters from the General Assembly in a bid to undercut U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s claim that she’s the favorite of Georgia conservatives. The list includes 40 House members, five state senators and three incoming House lawmakers.

The slate includes at least two House lawmakers who earlier endorsed Loeffler: State Reps. Karen Mathiak and Rick Williams. State Rep. Ron Stephens, another early Loeffler backer, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’s now neutral in the race but declined further comment.

While it’s unclear why those lawmakers flipped their positions, one lawmaker linked his decision to the Loeffler campaign’s heated reaction to Ralston’s endorsement.

Her spokesman, Stephen Lawson, had called Ralston a “career politician and criminal defense lawyer who abused his power.”

“While I support Doug on his merits, I’ve typically remained neutral when it comes to intraparty races or endorsements,” said state Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth. “However, the Loeffler campaign’s attempt to discredit Speaker Ralston – and by extension all House Republicans – is embarrassing.”

He added: “I’m ashamed that Loeffler’s campaign was scared enough by his endorsement to stoop to these tactics.”

Democrat Jon Ossoff (Atlanta) spoke about rural healthcare, according to the Albany Herald.

U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff identified lack of access to health care as well as the high cost of medications and services as two pressing issues facing southwest Georgia.

Pointing to the announced closing of Southwest Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert on Oct. 22, Ossoff said that more investment is needed to address the needs of rural residents.

The area has seen previous closings of area hospitals, including in 1983 in Fort Gaines and Stewart-Webster Hospital in Richland in 2013.

“The closing of rural hospitals in rural Georgia is an ongoing crisis,” the Democrat, who is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue, said. “(Georgia) officials have refused to expand Medicaid even though it would help hundreds of thousands and help hospitals stay open.”

“People shouldn’t have to drive an hour or two hours to get to the hospital,” he said. “Once we get everybody covered by affordable health care — and we will — if you’re an hour or two hours from a health care facility, that’s not good enough.”

The Georgia Monitor has created an “I Farm, I Vote,” campaign to increase rural voter turnout, according to RFD-TV.

In Georgia, rural areas are an important part of the state. In fact, 120 out of 159 counties are considered rural. However, they are often overshadowed by urban areas like Atlanta. Population wise, it takes 87 counties to make up the population in the five counties in the Atlanta area, and during an election year, can be a lot of leverage. This is why it is important for people in rural areas to turn out and vote.

Back in 2018, the Georgia Farm Bureau decided to come out with the campaign “I Farm, I Vote.”

According to Georgia Farm Bureau president Gerald Long, “I saw the importance of the election coming up, back in 2018. I felt like we needed to get involved, even though we are a non-partisan organization… but I knew that our voices needed to be heard. I think its very important.”

Research after the 2018 midterms, proves that it did in fact make a difference with rural voter turnout. Farm Bureau’s Katie Duvall states, “Voter turnout was very high in rural areas in the 2018 election… obviously, the rural turnout was very important and did make a difference in that election, and we just want to make sure that we can encourage our members to do the same again this year.”

Georgia Democrats are also working to mobilize rural voters, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

With only two months left before what many are hailing the “most important election of our lifetime,” party members are hopeful increased Democratic enthusiasm in rural areas will offset any setbacks that emerged from COVID-19.

Party officials remain adamant that prioritizing voter safety over in-person canvassing will give them an edge on the Republican strategy that has taken an opposite approach.

“Our role as Democrats is we are earning voters’ trust by showing that we believe in science, we believe in public health and, most of all, we want to protect their lives,” Maggie Chambers, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party in Georgia, said. “So, obviously, there are certain challenges that we are embracing with having to embrace this new normal of COVID-19.”

The pandemic has exacerbated another issue rural Georgians struggle with daily: widespread lack of broadband. Especially for the rural educational system, the lack of internet connection has impacted thousands as efforts to curb the spread of the virus were instituted.

Expansion of rural broadband has become a key campaign issue for state and federal candidates.

Laura Register, a Democratic political adviser, said state members of the party have a large challenge on their hands in rural areas where Republican voices are the loudest.

“It’s really hard now with the coronavirus,” she said. “How do you really make an impact?”

In Bulloch County, both the Sheriff and the Chair of the County Commission are under quarantine, according to the Statesboro Herald.

In Hall County, more than 200 cases await the reopening of grandy jury proceedings, according to the Gainesville Times.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh, who prosecutes cases in Hall and Dawson counties, said there were 315 cases as of Aug. 17 ready for grand jury overall, 244 of those being in Hall County.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that next year is going to be a very busy year,” assistant public defender Chris van Rossem said.

Darragh said he would like to hold grand jury sessions as often as he can to catch up, though he and other court officials want to do so as safely as possible. He and other court stakeholders held a Zoom conference call Friday, Sept. 4, brainstorming on ways to resume these court functions.

The United States Department of Agriculture has extended the summer free lunch program, according to AccessWDUN.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children – whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually – so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments.”

The press release outlines the details of the program, saying that it allows meals to be served in all areas and at no cost, allows parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children, and more. The idea is to provide flexible options so children can “access meals under all circumstances.”

While the hope is to provide free meals through the rest of 2020, it will operate as long as funds are available.

Defunding the police has become an issue in the Augusta District Attorney’s race, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

District Attorney Natalie Paine has signed a pledge not to “defund the police” while Jared Williams, her opponent Nov. 3, responded that cutting funds for sheriff’s offices isn’t allowed under Georgia law.

Paine said signing the “police pledge” shows her longstanding support for law enforcement. The Heritage Action pledge is to oppose any bill, resolution or movement to defund the police. Heritage Action is a sister organization of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.

“There’s a movement afoot to not only disrespect and undermine our men and women in uniform, but to actually defund police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country,” said Paine, a Republican. “This radical agenda is absolutely insane and must be stopped.”

Williams, a Democrat, said Paine’s pledge is misguided because Georgia sheriff’s offices, including the three in the circuit’s Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties, are already protected from funding cuts.

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has seen fewer child abuse reports during online learning, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services saw a drop in the number of calls to its child abuse and neglect hotline during the past several months as children spent less time in school buildings and more time learning virtually from home due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

That decrease can be attributed almost entirely to fewer calls from educators, said Tom Rawlings, director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

Whitfield County saw a drop in the number of new investigations in July to 22 from 70 for that month in 2019, said Jonathan Sloan, director of the Whitfield County Division of Family and Children Services. “Reports and investigations show a decrease, but we expect an increase when children are back at school.”

Three finalists were announced for Savannah City Manager, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Glynn County Commissioners may have to redo a vote to adopt the property tax rate, according to The Brunswick News.

State regulations require the county to hold three public hearings before adopting a new tax rate, but county finance personnel didn’t find out until after the fact that the third hearing has to be held five business days after the second.

The first two hearings were held in the morning and afternoon on Aug. 14. The Glynn County Commission held the third hearing at the same meeting it voted to adopt the new tax rate on Aug. 20 — only four business days from the earlier hearings.

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