Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 12, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 12, 2021

Former Confederate President Alexander Stephens was released from federal prison on October 12, 1865 and returned to Georgia.

1929 UGA vs Yale Tix

The first game in Sanford Stadium was played on October 12, 1929, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs beating the Yale Bulldogs. Here is ten minutes of the game.

1929_Georgia_vs_Yale

On October 12, 1958, The Temple was bombed after a phone call to WSB warned that Black churches and Jewish temples would be blown up.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting starts today in local races across Georgia. From WTOC:

You do not need any special reason to vote early in the state of Georgia. Absentee mail-in voting is now underway and they will send out ballots until October 22.

In Chatham County, early in-person voting starts at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and will run until October 29. There are 5 locations where you can vote early; the main elections office, Chatham County Mosquito control, the Civic Center, Islands library and the Southwest library.

From WSAV:

Early voting for the November election begins on Tuesday in Chatham County. Just over 227,000 people are registered to vote in the county, according to the board of registrars.

Due to Senate Bill 202, also called The Election Integrity Act of 2021, voters should expect several changes when it comes to in-person voting and mail-in ballots.

In-person early voting runs from Tuesday, Oct. 12, to Friday, Oct. 29. Voters can expect to use new electronic ballot marking devices while voting in person.

You can also vote using an absentee ballot. As of Monday, 754 people have requested one, according to the board of registrars.

You can submit a request form until Friday, Oct. 22. To do that, you can physically request a ballot at the board of registrars or submit one over mail, email or fax.

Instead of a signature, absentee ballots will be now verified through ID or the last four digits of your social security.

You do not need to provide a reason to vote early or absentee.

From WALB:

Early voting in Albany starts Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Because of Senate Bill 202, there will be two extra days to vote. Those days will be Saturday, Oct. 16 and Saturday, Oct. 23.

“They would need identification. Any one of the acceptable forms of ID. Of course, the only expired identification that is acceptable is the Georgia’s driver’s license. All other identification must be current. They provide the identification, they are looked up in the system, they are provided a voter card, and they are moved over to the machine to cast their ballot,” Nickerson said.

You must live in Wards 2, 3, and 5 to vote in this election. Voters will be deciding the Albany City Commission seats for those wards.

Wait, what? The so-called “voter suppression legislation” passed by Georgia Republican legislators created extra days to early vote?

From the Albany Herald:

Ballot drop boxes placed around the city are a thing of the past, but the early voting period for Albany municipal elections that begins on Tuesday will include two Saturday voting days.

Nine candidates are vying for the three ward seats up for election on Nov. 2, and early voting will extend through Oct. 29, with Saturday voting on Saturday and Oct. 23.

The elimination of drop boxes and the addition of mandatory Saturday voting days was part of a new law approved earlier this year by Georgia legislators, Dougherty County Voting Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. The Saturday voting will be a first for municipal elections.

One ballot drop box will be available at the voter registration office at 222 Pine Ave. in the Government Center for the Nov. 2 election.

Ballots can be dropped off through 7 p.m. on election day, Nickerson said.

From the AJC:

Featuring the race for mayor of Atlanta and local contests statewide, the elections will be the first time many voters go to the polls since the General Assembly passed Georgia’s new voting law in March. Voters will decide on mayors, city councils, school boards and tax referendums.

Early voting locations, hours and sample ballots are available online on the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. Voters must cast ballots in the counties where they’re registered.

Changes to voting laws affect early voting in several ways.

The minimum early voting hours are set at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and counties can offer up to 12 hours of daily early voting, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In previous elections, early voting times were required “during normal business hours,” but those hours weren’t defined.

Early voting will also be offered on two Saturdays, and local election offices have the option of providing voting hours on Sundays as well. Before the law, one Saturday of early voting was required.

Fulton County fired two election workers based on allegations of shredding voter registration documents, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

A Fulton County statement says preliminary information indicates that the employees checked out batches of applications for processing. Instead of fully processing them, they are alleged to have shredded some of the forms.

Fellow employees reported the alleged actions to their supervisor Friday morning, and the two employees were fired that day.

The county reported the alleged actions to the secretary of state’s office and the district attorney’s office for investigation. The county’s election operations are already under review by the state.

From the AP via AccessWDUN:

It’s not immediately clear whether the 300 voter registration records in question were lost, county spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said.

“Normally, processing a voter registration application involves entering them in the state system, updating them, verifying their information,” she said. “That is the matter that’s under investigation — was that process completed.”

Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Rick Barron reported the allegations to the secretary of state’s office of investigations.

“Fulton County called the secretary of state’s office. We told them about this and we asked them to investigate,” Corbitt said.

Any Fulton County resident who tries to vote in an upcoming election and is found not to be registered will be able to vote using a provisional ballot, and an investigation will follow, the county statement says.

From Fox5Atlanta:

According to officials, the county allegedly shredded 300 paper voter registration applications in the last two weeks. State law requires officials to preserve any documents relating to a primary or general election for two years after the election.

[Fulton County Commission Chair Robb] Pitts alerted the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to investigate as well as contact the Secretary of State’s Office, which is doing its own investigation.

Raffensberger has previously called for Barron and the county’s Registration Chief Ralph Jones to be fired immediately.

Pitts countered, saying he believes Raffensperger wants the state to take over elections in Fulton County.

“His ultimate goal is based on the provisions of Senate Bill 202, he would like to take over the elections in Fulton County, That is not going to happen, period,” said Pitts.

Any Fulton County resident who has questions about their ballot or application can contact the Fulton County Department of Registration & Elections at 404-612-7030.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) wants a federal probe of the shredding allegations, according to WALB.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has already launched an investigation into the allegations.

“After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” said Raffensperger. “The Department of Justice needs to take a long look at what Fulton County is doing and how their leadership disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance. The voters of Georgia are sick of Fulton County’s failures.”

Raffensperger said new allegations have come to light that Fulton County was seen shredding 300 applications related to Georgia’s municipal elections. State law requires election officials to preserve elections documents related to primary or general elections for 24 months after the election.

After repeatedly calling on the General Assembly to provide the authority to the Secretary of State’s office to “fix failing counties,” Raffensperger said SB202 has finally provided the means to do so. Beforehand, because counties ran elections, there were few avenues for accountability at the state level when counties repeatedly failed their voters. The State Election Board had only limited ability to help voters, such as those in Fulton County, who had been failed repeatedly by their county elections leadership.

Republican Herschel Walker campaigned for United States Senate in Savannah, according to WTOC.

We asked Walker, if elected how he plans to work with both republicans and democrats.

“Why are we not praising this country trying to work together to get things done and that’s what I want to do. You know I’m not coming to the senate to look good or to become famous, I’m all ready that. What I can do is try and make something better for this country by bringing people together, going across the isles shaking Democrats hands asking what can I do? Tell me something I may not know that I can help you to solve, and they can do the same thing to me as well and that’s one reason why I decided I wanted to run for that Senate seat,” Walker said.

Remember, anyone running in 2022 will be up against Democratic Incumbent Raphael Warnock.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at the SPLOST on November’s ballot for Columbus and Muscogee County voters.

In less than a month, Columbus voters will decide if they’ll approve a 1% special-purpose local-option sales tax, or SPLOST.

If approved, the tax would begin April 1, 2022 and collect $400 million over a period of roughly ten years. The biggest ticket item on the slate of projects is a roughly $200 million judicial complex to replace the Government Center, but the tax would fund other projects. There are public safety expenses to make, roads to fix, parks to improve and pools to repair.

The sales tax rate would be 9% for 9 months if voters pass the SPLOST. The regional Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) expires in December 2022. The rate would remain at 9% if Columbus voters renew the TSPLOST.

The 9% rate would be the highest in city history and among the highest in Georgia. As of Oct. 1, no Georgia county pays a sales tax rate greater than 8.9%, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Early voting will take place at the City Service Center on Macon Road from Oct. 12-29. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 22. One ballot collection drop box will be located inside the City Service Center and will only be open during hours of early voting.

13WMAZ profiles the candidates for Warner Robins City Council Post 1 and looks at local races across Central Georgia.

MACON-BIBB COUNTY has an election underway as well, but the only choices are Yes and No.

Voters will decide whether to approve a special extra penny sales tax, the “O-LOST,” aimed at bolstering county finances.

FORSYTH-MONROE COUNTY: Voters countywide will decide whether to approve a transportation SPLOST to pay for road and bridge improvements.

GRAY voters will decide whether to allow the sale of distilled spirits within the city. You can buy beer and wine there now, but not the hard stuff.

PEACH COUNTY voters will decide whether to approve a transportation SPLOST to fund road and highway projects.

WILCOX COUNTY voters will decide whether to continue an education SPLOST to help fund school projects.

The Gainesville Times profiles the candidates for Gillsville City Council Post 2.

Savannah and Chatham County local redistricting proposals were discussed publicly, according to WTOC.

Chatham County Commissioners and Savannah-Chatham County Public School board members got a look at the proposed changes to their districts on Monday.

The lines change based on where the people live. And over the past 10 years, the most growth has been in the western parts of Chatham County.

So even though every district will likely be re-shaped in some way, some of the more noticeable changes will be in districts like the 7th and 8th. The Metropolitan Planning Commission is heading the data-driven effort, and have been meeting with commissioners and school board members over the past month to explain how they arrived at the current proposed changes.

There are still several steps that need to be taken before these changes are finalized, beginning with two presentations to the public before meeting with the local state delegation in December.

“We have to go to the legislators, who have to go to the reapportionment, who have to go back to the legislators to vote, and then it goes to the Governors desk before all of this is final. So there are still four steps in the process and we are just at step one,” said Chatham County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis.

Chairman Ellis says the goal is to have the changes to state lawmakers by January, with the Governor making the changes official by the end of the upcoming session.

In addition to the public presentations with all the MPC information, both the school board and county commission will be posting the information on their respective websites to residents can check out the changes.

Floyd County Commissioners will consider changes to the county board of elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County Commissioners will hear a response from the elections board concerning previously voiced complaints against the board as well as elections office during the Tuesday evening meeting.

In addition to that, they’ll hear two recommendations from the volunteer citizen board — to increase the number of board members as well as conduct a performance review.

At a previous meeting, commissioners stated they want to give election board members a chance to respond to the concerns. Elections board members are also requesting an independent, third party review of the board’s operations, as well as the elections office.

In addition, election board members are requesting that commissioners increase the Board of Elections and Registration from three members to five members. Currently, Melanie Conrad, John Scott Husser and Corey Townsend serve on the board.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck (R) will be sentenced in federal court today, according to WSAV.

Jurors in July swiftly convicted the 60-year-old Beck on 37 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud.

Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to sentence Beck to 10 years in prison.

Defense lawyers are asking for a shorter sentence.

Beck’s trial detailed a scheme that channeled more than $2.5 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association to his own bank accounts.

I will pray for Jim Beck and his wife, Lucy.

Former Port Wentworth Mayoral candidate Julius Hall will not appear on the ballot after the Georgia Supreme Court denied his appeal, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Hall filed an appeal to overturn his disqualification [by the County elections board] as well as a motion to have his name returned to the ballot while the appeal played out. Both cases were denied according to the supreme court’s clerk’s office.

On Sept. 27, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Lisa Colbert affirmed a previous decision by the Port Wentworth superintendent of elections, Shanta Scarboro, to disqualify Hall from the race based on a Georgia law that states a convicted felon must have their civil and political rights restored as well as have 10 years elapse from the end of their sentence in order to run for public office.

The Supreme Court decision puts an end to a month-long challenge between Hall and the piece of the Georgia constitution denying his right to run for public office.

A year ago, another candidate on the local ballot was disqualified from running based on the same law. Tony Riley, who ran for Chatham County Commission argued that his crime – conspiracy to distribute cocaine – did not meet the “felony of moral turpitude” standard cited in the law. His appeals failed.

Three child advocacy groups are starting a pro-mask campaign, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“The adults charged with caring for our children are still getting sick,” said Dr. Erica Fener Sitkoff, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children. “We know some school districts are running double bus routes because bus drivers are ill. We know central office staff in some districts are subbing in classrooms because they can’t find enough substitutes to cover sick teachers.

“Wearing a mask isn’t fun,” said Dr. Veda Johnson of PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health. “It can be cumbersome and hot. But evidence shows it is a primary way to stop the spread of COVID-19 for children too young to be vaccinated.”

The public service announcements will run statewide on broadcast television as well as digital and social media.

Cases of COVID-19 have been coming down in Georgia in recent weeks after a summer surge.

Clarke County public schools are working on the details of a vaccine mandate, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Clarke County School District is making the moves to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff, with final details to come.

During a Thursday evening work session, the Clarke County Board of Education discussed an in-progress policy for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The board will vote Thursday to send the policy out for public comment. After public comment, the board will take another vote on whether or not to implement the policy.

At its most basic, the policy in its current form requires employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, with the possibility for a medical or religious exemption.

If an employee is exempt — or if they refuse the vaccine — they would be required to take weekly tests. Kara Dyckman, raised the issue even having exemptions if employees could still refuse.

Another issue raised was the logistics of testing employees on a routine basis, including the potential cost that would cost the school system and how the testing would be done.

Staff estimated that a COVID-19 saliva test would cost $52 a person. It was also estimated that 700 staff members out of the 2,400 staff have not yet been vaccinated, so if that remained true, weekly testing would come out to $36,400.

Board member Nicole Hull referenced the cost to conduct the testing and was concerned that those funds were being used for the tests rather than other “important things for our children.”

Brunswick finds that vaccine incentives pay off in higher vaccination rates for city employees, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey says some city departments have raised their vaccination rates significantly since the commission approved bonuses two weeks ago.

City officials chose to offer a $500 incentive as a way to increase the number of employees protected from COVID-19.

“We’re not mandating the vaccine,” he said. “Some people need the incentive. We’re trying to keep the city running.”

Prior to the decision to approve the bonus, City Manager Regina McDuffie said only 46% of city employees were vaccinated.

The cost to replace workers stricken with the virus and the city’s share of medical expenses to treat them make it more cost effective to offer the bonuses, she said.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the bonus two weeks ago, with Commissioners Julie Martin and Johnny Cason voting no. They questioned if a bonus was a wise way to spend taxpayer dollars.

McDuffie said it costs city insurance $70,000 for each employee hospitalized with COVID-19.

The money for the incentive comes from American Rescue Plan funding the city recently received.

The City of Savannah doesn’t care when you hold trick-or-treating this year, according to WTOC.

Chatham County tells WTOC they will not weigh in on trick-or-treating dates this year.

“We were informed that Pooler has decided to do trick-or-treating on Saturday, October 30th. That was an individual municipality decision,” said Catherine Glasby, Public Information Director for Chatham County.

The county says the Chatham County Police Department will take extra precautions on Halloween to patrol neighborhoods, and the officers usually have candy to hand out as well.

Maybe Chatham County are the fun police.

Valdosta wants a greener Halloween, according to WALB.

City of Valdosta officials said there are ways to make this Halloween more eco-friendly.

Halloween candy wrappers can be a plastic nightmare when tossed out into the streets and they can cause pollution and harm wildlife.

Candy wrappers are made up of different materials, like plastic and aluminum. Those materials make it difficult for wrappers to be recycled.

“It’s really important not to throw your candy wrappers on the floor. I know once we got our little superheroes and princess all dressed up and we’re out the door, they’re in a hurry to eat their candy and they find a good piece and it’s easy to just dispose of it and throw it on the ground. But what people don’t always realize is that it actually ends up in our rivers and streams. That can harm our fish, turtles and alligators,” said Angela Bray, stormwater manager.

Dougherty County is receiving $3.3 million in federal tornado relief funds, according to WALB.

This is part of the federal emergency management hazardous mitigation grant program. The program is designed to help those homeowners who live in areas that are prone to natural disasters.

County Administrator Mike McCoy said this grant is going toward 18 homes, most of them being in Radium Springs.

“This has been going on since 2017 that these folks first applied to have their homes purchased and here we are, almost 2021 and they’re just now getting an award letter. Homeowners have the ability to say, ‘hey, I don’t want to reside at this location anymore because I have spent as much as I (was) dealing with disasters,’” said McCoy.

McCoy said homes that the government buys from homeowners become the county’s property.

He said the land is taken off [the property tax rolls] and can no longer be used for development and only for green space.

Henry County spent $6.35 million dollars of federal COVID relief funds on rental assistance, according to the AJC.

Since May, 803 residents have received help from the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network, which the Henry County Commission hired to administer the funding. The group received 1,638 applications for the CARES Act funding, with 362 still pending. A total of 473 applications were deemed ineligible.

“With this program, we are excited that we were able to meet the needs for Henry County residents, pretty much in record time,” GMEN Executive Director Elizabeth Wilson told commissioners at a recent board meeting.

The average payment was $7,804 per participant, said Karen Curry Davis, president and CEO of Curry Davis Consulting Group, which helped GMEN on the funding. The group paid almost $40,000 to the landlords of residents who were in arrears, some of whom were behind 10 months or more.

Hall County Commissioners are expected to vote Thursday on pay raises, according to AccessWDUN.

Basically, the pay increases would go into effect fourteen months from now, on January 1, 2023, and raise the chairman’s base salary to $50,000 per year and the salary of each district commissioner to $45,000. The last time a pay increase was approved was in 2007.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Athens commissioners voted to recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, formerly celebrating Christopher Columbus Day.

“This land that we are on right now, as well as all of Clarke County and Georgia, was originally inhabited by indigenous people, specifically here in Athens, Cherokee and Muscogee people,” said Commissioner Tim Denson.

The resolution not only recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day but states that it supports events that “encourage understanding and appreciation” of the tradition and culture of Indigenous people.

The resolution additionally looks to “correct omission of the Indigenous Peoples’ presence” in Athens by directing the county manager to work with the Office of Inclusion and ACC departments, Indigenous people, and historians.

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