Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2020

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 6, 1932, the legislation repealing Prohibition was introduced by Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin.

On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending prohibition. Earlier that day, Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the Amendment. Georgia never took action on the Amendment.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

On December 5, 2000, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.

On December 4, 2018, Brad Raffensperger won the General Election Runoff for Georgia Secretary of State.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence visits Atlanta and Savannah today, according to the AJC.

Vice President Mike Pence is returning to Georgia on Friday for the second time in two weeks to stump for Republican runoff candidates, part of the all-out GOP push to convince rank-and-file voters to return to the polls ahead of the Jan. 5 vote to decide control of the U.S. Senate.

At roughly the same time as Pence rallies with U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Savannah, former President Barack Obama will hold a virtual campaign stop with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock as both parties race to mobilize core supporters.

Before Pence flies to Savannah for the 3 p.m. rally, the vice president will also meet with coronavirus experts in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That event is scheduled for noon.

President Trump visits Valdosta on Saturday, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Hosted by the Republican National Committee, Trump’s “victory rally” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Valdosta Regional Airport, in support of incumbent GOP Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both in hotly contested runoff races that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Trump’s scheduled visit has sparked both excitement and anger from South Georgia residents.

Scott Demott, chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party, said the visit puts a spotlight on other parts of Georgia. The election isn’t just controlled by voters in Atlanta but all of Georgia, he said.

“It’s a good reminder that we matter, too, down here – every vote matters – and that there’s a lot at stake in this upcoming (Jan. 5 Senate) runoff election,” Demott said.

“I think fundamentally what it reflects is that they have to drive up turn out in rural areas of the state,” [Valdosta State University dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of political science Dr. James] LaPlant said. “Those are your most Republican areas.”

He said more northern portions of the state, such as Atlanta and Macon, will more than likely come in blue, meaning the attention of Trump and the Republican Senate campaign must be focused on the south. Rural South Georgia was the key to Kemp’s victory, LaPlant added.

“If it’s this continued rhetoric about fraud in the election, it’s hard to think how that helps the candidates,” he said.

Click here to watch yesterday’s Georgia Senate Government Oversight Committee hearing on election law.

Click here to watch yesterday’s Georgia Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on elections.

President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, attended a Georgia Senate Committee hearing yesterday, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

The former New York City mayor’s appearance came after state senators fielded testimony at a separate hearing Thursday morning from a top state election official who stressed no evidence has been found of widespread fraud in Georgia.

At the second hearing, members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard from witnesses on alleged issues with the state’s voting machines and watched a video alleging ballot-counting irregularities that state election officials have dismissed as unfounded.

Giuliani’s team also pressed state lawmakers to appoint electors to the Electoral College who will cast Georgia’s 16 votes in Trump’s favor next month – despite the secretary of state’s website showing the Republican president lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia by at least 10,422 votes, with around 3,000 votes left to be recounted Thursday night.

“This is your power, your obligation,” Giuliani said. “You are the final arbiter of who the electors should be and whether the election is fair or not.”

Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said he has “never seen this level of mistrust” in the election system after fielding concerns from constituents in his heavily conservative North Georgia district.

“Maybe that’s not totally fair … [but] that’s how they feel,” Gooch said Thursday. “I have a duty to let you know that. This issue isn’t going to go away unless we make some changes.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump’s narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state’s vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities.

Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn’t necessary and would disenfranchise voters.

[Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting.

“Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online.

The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don’t think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview.

Governor Brian Kemp called for an audit of absentee ballot signatures, according to CBS46.

During an appearance on Fox News on Thursday night, Governor Kemp said, “I called early on for a signature audit. Obviously, the Secretary of State, per the laws of the Constitution, would have to order that. He has not done that. I think it should be done. Especially after what we saw today. There needs to be transparency on that. Hopefully, in the next 24 hours, we’ll see a lot more.”

This comes as a Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard new jaw-dropping allegations of alleged election fraud in Fulton County. The supposed video tape evidence alleges proof of ballots being counted without oversight.

For the first time, the president’s legal team led by Rudy Giuliani presented the surveillance video from the state’s larges voting center, which allegedly shows people taking out at least four boxes of ballots from underneath a table and then counting them after hours with no election supervisors present.

From Fox News:

Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Republican who has been fiercely criticized by President Trump over his approach to allegations of voter fraud in his state, said Thursday that new testimony has raised additional questions and a signature audit should be performed.

Kemp, who was interviewed on “The Ingraham Angle,” was referring to surveillance video that allegedly showed poll watchers being led out of a room at State Farm Arena, the state’s largest vote-counting center, after being told that the vote count was complete for the night. Once they left, a woman could be seen pulling out suitcases from underneath a table that allegedly contained ballots. The votes were allegedly counted for hours, with no election supervisors present, reported.

Kemp told Ingraham that he has called for a signature audit, but the power in the state to make the order lies with the secretary of state’s office.

“I think it should be done. I think especially [given] what we saw today… it raises more questions,” he said.

Trump took to Twitter late Thursday and said the best way for the two Republicans to win in the runoff election in the state on Jan. 5 is to “allow signature checks in the Presidential race,” which would ensure his own in the state.

DeKalb County certified its vote totals following the recount, according to the AJC.

DeKalb County recertified its recount of the Nov. 3 presidential election Friday morning, affirming that Democrat Joe Biden won the county by a hefty margin, but was unable to explain a roughly 70-vote difference from its earlier recounts.

DeKalb had to recertify the results due to a roughly 70-vote discrepancy from the prior count following a statewide audit.

“There was a margin of error, and by law if there was a change in vote totals, we have to recertify the elections,” Erica Hamilton, the Director of the DeKalb BOE, said during the virtual meeting. “We are not the only county that has to recertify its election results … it’s a very small margin.”

Hamilton added that it’s unclear whether the error was caused by humans or machines.

“(The discrepancy) bothered me,” she said. “I had staff searching, searching, searching. It’s the first time we’ve done this with the new Dominion (voting) system, and I hope that if we have a recount in January, we’re able to alleviate this.”

The prior manual audit, which was ordered by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, led to 95 omitted ballots being discovered in DeKalb. The incident led to an elections manager’s firing.

Whitfield County completed its recount of Presidential election ballots, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

In Whitfield County, the recount left Trump with 25,644 votes, down from 25,666 after the first recount in November, according to Deputy Assistant Election Supervisor Rhonda Franks. President-elect Joe Biden had 10,680 votes, up from 10,667 after the first recount. Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen lost one vote, falling to 442 from 443.

Whitfield County Board of Elections Chairman Stephen “Sparky” Kelehear said he could not say exactly why the vote totals changed. The first recount was by hand. The second recount was by machine.

“I don’t think it’s the machines,” he said. “There’s probably some human error in there somewhere. But when you are counting approximately 37,000 votes that’s a pretty small percentage.”

The final tally in Murray County had Trump with 12,944 votes, up one from the first recount. Biden had 2,301 votes, down one from the first recount, and Jorgensen had 144 votes, which was unchanged.

“It is not at all unusual for a vote or two to be changed in recounts,” said Murray County Election Superintendent Larry Sampson. “I’ve seen it happen before. Probably due to the human recount I should think.”

Bulloch County set early voting dates and locations for the Runoff election, according to the Statesboro Herald.

This year, Georgia’s election season extends through Christmas. In fact, Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 are the only three weekdays that in-person early voting won’t be available during the three weeks after it opens in Bulloch County.

The Elections and Registration office in the County Annex will offer 13 days of in-person advanced voting opportunity, beginning Dec. 14 and including one Saturday, Dec. 19, toward the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate and Georgia Public Service Commission runoff election. A second location, the Honey Bowen building, will host early voting on three weekdays, Dec. 15-17.

Meanwhile, mailed-out “absentee” ballots are available by request, and the local elections staff has already mailed more than 5,100 of them, Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones said Wednesday.

Muscogee County has temporarily closed its election office after a worker tested positive for COVID, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

A worker in the Muscogee County elections office has tested positive for COVID-19, just a day after employees there finished recounting votes in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The worker was not among those staffing the recount that took place this week in the Columbus Council chambers of the City Services Center off Macon Road, but those who handled the recount had been in the unidentified employee’s company and could have been exposed to the coronavirus, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration.

As a result, the elections office is closed to the public until it can be sanitized, and the council chambers will be as well, Boren said.

Congressman David Scott (D-Perimeter) will serve as the first African-American Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, according to the Georgia Recorder.

“I was born on my grandparents’ farm in rural Aynor, South Carolina, during the days of segregation, and the hardships, of those, on whose shoulders I now stand,” said Scott, who represents who represents a southwest suburban Atlanta district. “I owe this historic selection as the first African American Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee to a diverse coalition of members from across our nation.”

Scott, who grew up during the era of Jim Crow segregation laws, said he wants to focus on how climate change is a threat to the farming industry and also work to bring economic equity to farmers.

“I will use this critical opportunity to represent the values of our entire caucus and advance our priorities for trade, disaster aid, climate change, sustainable agriculture, SNAP, crop insurance, small family farms, specialty crops, and rural broadband,” he said. “The fault lines dividing our rural and urban communities are running deep, and climate change is now threatening our nation’s food supply.”

The Savannah Chamber of Commerce released its list of local priorities for the 2021 General Assembly, according to the Savannah News.

Savannah’s Convention Center expansion and incentives for retired veterans to stay in Georgia were two items presented as legislative priorities by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.

The legislative priority list includes support of legislation that would allow single counties to hold a referendum for a Transit Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax to fund transit capital, operations and maintenance.

[State Rep. Elect Derek] Mallow and Rep. Bill Hitchens, who represents a swaths of western Chatham County and Effingham County in the Georgia House, both said Georgia needs to offer incentives that would encourage veterans to make our state home.

“Every state around us has these tax incentives,” Hitchens said. “Every year when it comes up, there’s always something else that needs money. And I have no doubt that will happen during this year, but we’re going to push (for it).”

A Task Force created by Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis recommended moving two Confederate memorials and renaming some streets currently named for politicians and Confederate leaders, according to the Augsuta Chronicle.

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