Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 8, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 8, 2022

On November 8, 1860, Savannah residents protested in favor of secession following the election of Abraham Lincoln.

President Abraham Lincoln (R) was reelected on November 8, 1864.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made his 15th trip to Warm Springs, Georgia on November 8, 1928 after winning the election for Governor of New York.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was elected to the United States Senate on November 8, 1932 and would serve until his death in 1971. Before his election to the Senate, Russell served as State Representative, Speaker of the Georgia House, and the youngest Governor of Georgia; his father served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. On the same day, part-time Georgia resident Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States.

On November 8, 1994, Republicans won control of the United States House of Representatives and Senate in what came to be called the “Republican Revolution.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From the Secretary of State’s Absentee Voting Database:

In Person Early Votes Cast: 2,291,217

Mailed Early Votes Cast: 240,141

Electronic Votes Cast: 3,513

Total Votes Cast: 2,534,871

Mailed Votes Outstanding: 41,315

Electronic Votes Outstanding: 3,367

Polls are open today until 7 PM across Georgia. You’ll need a photo ID. From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Statewide, more than two million people had already voted as of Friday morning in early voting.

In Whitfield County, as of mid-morning Friday, 9,650 people had cast their ballot in early voting, according to election Supervisor Mary Hammontree, “with a steady flow” throughout the day. She said the county has broken its previous record for early voting of 9,641 in 2018.

Murray County residents can vote on a measure on whether to allow restaurants to sell distilled spirits by the drink Monday through Saturday. They can also vote on a measure on whether to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink on Sunday.

Voters can also vote on several proposed amendments to the state constitution, including one that would allow the pay of officials elected statewide to be suspended if they are indicted for a felony. Another proposed amendment would allow local governments and school boards to provide temporary tax relief to properties that are destroyed or severely damaged by a natural disaster in an area that nationally is declared a disaster area.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Early voter turnout numbers are similar to the 2016 election cycle, with over 22,000 Lowndes County voters having already cast ballots. In 2016, 25,554 voters cast ballots during early voting, according to election office numbers.

After three weeks of early voting, 22,661 Lowndes County residents have voted, according to numbers released during the weekend by the Lowndes County Board of Elections, with 1,306 absentee ballot by mail, 24 provisional ballots and 21,331 advanced voters out of 67,274 active voters.

In 2014, during the last mid-term to elect a governor, only 9,401 Lowndes County residents voted during the early-voting period, according to numbers released then by the elections board.

There are two contested seats in the Lowndes County area: Lowndes County Commission District 4 Democrat Demarcus Marshall (incumbent) and Republican John Burton III; and Valdosta City Council District 3 Thomas McIntyre, Dr. Mattie Blake and India Bell.

Lake Park residents can vote for mayor and city council seats, with incumbent Jena C. Sandlin and challenger Brent Edward Hudgins vying for the mayor’s seat and Busby Courson, June S. Yeomans and Carl J. Spano Jr. aiming to fill two available city council seats.

From the Statesboro Herald:

Voters lining up at Bulloch County’s 16 precinct polling places Tuesday will finish deciding two referendums on local sales taxes and one on liquor stores, plus two contests for seats on the county Board of Commissioners.

Of course, local voters are also doing their part in contests for governor and several other statewide races, as well as a U.S. Senate race that is drawing national attention. More than 25% of Bulloch County’s 50,043 registered voters cast ballots early in-person during the previous three weeks or have returned absentee ballots.

Last summer, the Board of Education and the county Board of Commissioners acted separately to put questions for five-year extensions of two 1% special purpose local option sales taxes, the Education SPLOST and Transportation SPLOST, on the ballot.

The E-SPLOST funds capital spending for the Bulloch County Schools, such as school and athletic facility construction and school bus, technology and security equipment purchases. In fact, this tax was first approved by voters in 2003, and extensions were approved by substantial majorities in 2005, 2009 and 2017. The previous four installments of the tax, including the current E-SPLOST 4, cumulatively have collected about $218 million, Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations director, reported in an October press release.

Meanwhile, the Transportation SPLOST, first approved by a majority of Bulloch County voters in May 2018, is up for its first proposed renewal, also for another five years. It also faced early expiration because of a $60 million revenue cap.

Also on the ballot is the county government’s proposal to license liquor stores in unincorporated parts of the county. A majority of Statesboro voters authorized them within the city limits last year.

During the 17 days of early voting in Bulloch County, 11,344 voters cast ballots in-person with the electronic system. Additionally, as of Monday afternoon, 1,215 no-excuse paper absentee ballots, plus 21 of the electronic or paper absentee ballots allowed for military service members and U.S. citizens overseas, had been returned to the elections office.

So 12,580 voters, or 25% of the 50,043 total registered, had already cast ballots. Georgia election officials generally base turnout reports on the count of registered voters on the active list, which in Bulloch County was 44,927 coming into this election. On that basis, the early turnout would be 28%.

From The Brunswick News:

Polls will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for a general election that will determine the next governor and members of Congress, as well as local races, other state offices and the fate of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum.

Locally there are two contested seats for Glynn County Commission, plus a Glynn County Board of Education seat and a Brunswick-Glynn Joint Water and Sewer Commission seat. In addition, four candidates are vying for a seat on the Satilla River Soil and Water Conservation Commission.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Locally, voters will decide whether to approve a transportation-related sales tax, known as TSPLOST.

From WTOC:

Tuesday is Election Day, and officials believe it will be the busiest Election Day turnout in years.

That’s despite nearly 50,000 people in Chatham County already casting their vote early.

The supervisor of elections says he expects 70,000-75,000 people will head to the polls in Chatham County for election day.

“I think we’ll have a big crowd at the polls. In 2018, the turnout was about 56 percent. I think tomorrow will be 65 percent or better,” Chatham County Supervisor of Elections Billy Wooten said.

He says 30 to 35 percent of people living in Chatham County have already voted early and adds almost 10,000 absentee ballots were submitted over the past three weeks.

“It’ll definitely be better than the pandemic election in 2020. Will we have a perfect election? No. Just the volume of people, the number of workers, the number of machines, things happen.”

From 13WMAZ:

It is now easier for someone to challenge your voter status. If that happens and you find out at the polls here is what you need to do.

“We have a process if someone challenges their registration. We will let them vote on a hand marked ballot and the board will have a hearing and the challenger will have to prove their case and if they don’t then the vote counts,” [Interim Election Supervisor for Bibb County Thomas] Gillon said.

From the Albany Herald:

Through the advance, in-person voting period that ended Friday, about 20% of the county’s 60,000 registered voters turned out. The total for the three weeks, which included two Saturdays and two Sundays, was 12,722

While those numbers were eclipsed by the huge turnout for the state as a whole, Friday was the top day in Dougherty County with 1,174 ballots cast.

“We definitely encourage people to get out and exercise their right to participate in the process,” [Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson] said. “We train our workers, our team members, as if all 60,000 will turn out. We hope people will get out there.”

In Lee County, 32.5 percent of 22,488 active registered voters cast ballots either during the early voting period or by mail, county Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said. About double that number will have to turn out on Tuesday to equal the 2018 turnout of 64%.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

The vast majority of those ballots — about 2.3 million — were cast through early voting in person at polling stations. Another 216,067 absentee ballots — more than three-quarters of all absentee ballots requested — were returned during the early voting period.

From the Gainesville Times:

Through Friday, 43,576 people had voted early, an increase from the 35,393 total votes cast in May.

“We had 37% overall voters including advance in-person, absentee by mail, and (uniformed and overseas citizen absentee voting),” [Elections Manager Paige] Thompson said. 

“Georgia’s record-breaking turnout continues with 2,056,545 voters casting their ballot during early voting, with 157,334 showing up Thursday, Nov. 3,” a statement of the Secretary of State’s Office reads. “Georgia has had record early voting turnout since the first day of early voting this year, surging to nearly twice the number on the first day of early voting in 2018.”

Election officials in Hall County have received a total of 4,509 absentee ballots, an increase from the 1,896 mail-in ballots submitted by voters in the May primary races.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Richmond County saw about 24% of voters casting ballots early in person. For Columbia County, about 32% of voters voted early and in person.

Richmond County has about 130,621 active voters while Columbia County has 105,491, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.

Columbia County saw higher turnout, with about 31% of voters coming out in May, but just 2% participation in the runoff.

Lee County voters will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST), according WALB.

T-SPLOST increases sales taxes in the county by 1 percent. Leaders are estimating $23 million to be collected and spent on the transportation industry overall — if it’s approved again.

“This is a continuation; this isn’t a new Tax, so, we’re just asking citizens to continue with this tax to help us out,” the President of the Lee County Chamber of Commerce Lisa Davis said. “It costs 1.25 million to pave a road per mile and it’s about $230,000 to resurface per mile.”

So far, almost $12 million have been collected. Davis says taxpayers could pay another price if the deciding vote is no.

“It keeps the property taxes down because we have to keep these improvements up. It’s a great economic development tool,” Davis said. “It helps folks that want to bring their businesses, they want to make sure there’s good roads to get there. If we don’t have the T-SPLOST, it could mean the property taxes go up and no one wants to have that so that 1 penny can go a long way.”

From the Center Square via the Albany Herald:

Referendum A asks voters to decide whether to exempt timber equipment a timber producer owns from ad valorem property taxes.

According to the Georgia Forestry Association, logging companies saw a cost increase of $2.50 per ton of wood harvested in 2022. That totals roughly $7,500 per week for an average small forestry business.

Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association, answered a few questions from The Center Square about the measure and what it means to the state’s forestry industry.

What is the biggest issue facing the forestry industry in Georgia?

Small forestry businesses are under extreme economic pressure from rising operational costs, supply chain constraints and labor challenges. In 2022, the average Georgia logging business is experiencing an estimated $7,500 in increased weekly operational costs – or $390,000/year.

This cost increase is threatening the long-term health of the sector and ultimately the prospect of keeping our state covered in forests.

Why should voters approve Referendum A?

Referendum A will provide an annual ad valorem (property) tax exemption for equipment used for managing, harvesting and replanting forests, an exemption that has been extended to owners of farm equipment for decades. This exemption will apply to more than 1,200 small businesses that directly support over 5,400 jobs.

Voting yes will provide economic relief for our small forestry businesses who are vital to the sustainability of our forests and the economic future of rural communities. This legislation received strong bipartisan support in the State Legislature, and now requires approval from Georgia voters.

Referendum A does not impact the annual ad valorem tax on timberland, the ad valorem tax paid at the time when trees are harvested, or federal income tax.

Playing the Devil’s Advocate, why should someone who owns a small business that is not in the timber industry vote for this? Shouldn’t they want lawmakers to extend a similar benefit to them and their industry?

The total collective tax burden at the local, state and federal level on a timberland owner in Georgia is the highest of any state in the Southeastern United States. We are placing an undue burden on an activity that produces the air we breathe, filters most of the water we drink, and provides us the shelter and many of the products we use daily.

In order to ensure steady production of forest products that we need for our survival, comfort and progress, we must ensure that the small businesses who steward our natural resources are on par with other agricultural businesses in the state.

A group of teachers will file suit over the “divisive concepts” law passed by the General Assembly, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

HB 1084, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on April 28, in part defines divisive concepts as teaching that “one race is inherently superior to another race; the United States of America is fundamentally racist; and an individual, by virtue of his or her race, is inherently or consciously racist or oppressive toward individuals of other races.”

Educators across the state say the new law had led to a lot of confusion and makes it difficult for them to do their jobs.

“As a classroom teacher I am confused and concerned about how this law will impact not only my classroom, but my career,” AP World History teacher Jeff Corkill said. “Like many educators in Georgia, I can’t figure out what I can or can’t teach under the law, and my school district’s administrators don’t seem to understand the law’s prohibitions either.”

The intent to file a lawsuit letter was issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Education Association and Georgia Association of Educators, indicating their plans to ask a federal court for preliminary and permanent injunctions on HB 1084 and declare it unconstitutional.

“Efforts to expand our multicultural democracy through public education are being met with frantic efforts in Georgia to censor educators, ban books and desperate measures to suppress teaching the truth about slavery and systemic racism,” GAE General Counsel Mike McGonigle said.

“We can teach U.S. history, the good, bad and the ugly without dividing children along racial lines,” said Georgia Sen. Butch Miller, who carried the bill in the Senate. “(Critical race theory) is wrong and it views American history through a racial sense. It’s a filter that focuses on victimhood, not triumph. We don’t defeat racism with racism….we must teach patriotism, that America’s good, though not perfect.”

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