Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2022

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington

The only major battle on Sherman’s March to the Sea occurred at Griswoldsville on November 22, 1864; on the same day, federal troops marched into Milledgeville. On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where he used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters.

Milledgeville-Old-Governor-Mansion-3

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

President John F. Kennedy became the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated in office on November 22, 1963. The next day, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been arrested for shooting Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience played its first show at the Bag O’Nails Club in London on November 25, 1966.

On November 22, 1988, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was first unveiled publicly at Palmdale, California.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Back to the Future II was released on November 22, 1989.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate. We are thankful that Georgia has runoff elections, not something silly like drawing straws or instant runoff voting.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Late Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston lies in state in the Capitol, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“He was a loyal friend through times of victory and loss,” Gov. Brian Kemp told the assembled mourners, who included Ralston’s family members as well as many state lawmakers.

“At times, he governed the House with an iron fist but also a big soft heart. That is why he was so respected and admired.”

“Those who frequently disagree with each other can still come together to achieve extraordinary things,” Kemp said of Ralston’s approach to politics.

Kemp listed some of Ralston’s key accomplishments: A mental health reform bill passed earlier this year, a 2020 hate crimes bill, and a 2015 transportation funding package.

“Of all those friends I’ve had the privilege of knowing, David Ralston was unique,” said Len Walker, who was Ralston’s pastor and, prior to that, served with Ralston in the Georgia House of Representatives. “He was one of a kind and I treasure his memory.”

“I treasured the conversations we had,” Walker said. “He was a friend who would build you up …. [and] make you feel better about what you were trying to do in this state Capitol.”

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, credited Ralston for the passage of a major mental health bill earlier this year.
“We passed a very significant mental health reform bill because of David Ralston’s leadership. It would never have happened without him,” Oliver said. “He was committed from the beginning. I think his cause for reform will go on beyond today.”

“Speaker Ralston and I had a unique relationship,” said former Democratic Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.

“He loved those heavy lifters,” Smyre said. “Politically, he had a two-way street and not a one-way alley. You could go back and forth with him, reason with him.”

Ralston’s body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the state Capitol until Wednesday morning. A funeral service at Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center in Blue Ridge is planned for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27.

Governor Kemp also cut a TV ad supporting Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, according to The Hill.

The ad is part of a $14.2 million television, radio and digital advertising campaign funded by the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), seeking to boost Walker after his race against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) went to a Dec. 6 runoff.

The ad titled, “Partner,” opens with a clip of reporters asking President Biden whether he will do anything differently over the next two years, to which Biden replies: “Nothing, I’m not going to change anything in any fundamental way.”

The spot then cuts to Kemp wearing a gray pullover with a small red outline of his state on the breast pocket telling the viewer: “Families are struggling because of Biden’s inflation, and Washington won’t change unless we make them.”

Kemp then claims that Georgia is doing better than the rest of the country “because we stood up for hard-working families.”

“Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia, not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden,” he says as the ad flashes an image of incumbent Warnock standing on stage with the president.

“That’s why I’m backing Herschel, and I hope you’ll join me in voting for him too,” Kemp says, wrapping up his pitch.

The New York Times reports that Herschel Walker retains a homestead exemption on his home in Texas.

Public tax records first reported by CNN show that this year Mr. Walker will receive a homestead tax exemption of roughly $1,500 for his home in the Dallas area, which he listed as his primary residence. He has received the tax relief for his home since 2012, according to an official in the tax appraisal office of Tarrant County, where Mr. Walker’s home is located.

Under the Constitution, Senate candidates are required to reside in the state they will represent only once they are elected. In Georgia, candidates must meet a handful of stipulations to establish residency in the state before filing their bids for office. Mr. Walker’s tax exemption in Texas suggests that his primary residence remains outside Georgia.

According to the Texas comptroller, Mr. Walker’s use of the tax exemption while running in Georgia is legal. The comptroller’s website states that you may still receive the tax break after moving away from home temporarily, if “you do not establish a principal residence elsewhere, you intend to return to the home, and you are away less than two years.”

Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, said that Mr. Walker’s tax exemption was unlikely to endanger his qualification for office or turn off the Republicans who supported him in the general election. But she added that in the final weeks of his runoff campaign against Mr. Warnock, the information could add more fodder to Democrats’ argument that Mr. Walker moved back to the state solely for his political career.

The Georgia Supreme Court stayed enforcement of a Fulton County Superior Court ruling that had suspended the “Heartbeat bill” abortion restriction, according to the AJC.

Georgia’s 2019 abortion law that restricts the procedure once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity will be back in effect during the legal process, the state Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.

Attorneys representing Gov. Brian Kemp had asked the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a Superior Court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the law, which typically bars the procedure in most cases about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney last week ordered the state to no longer enforce the 2019 law. The law had been in effect in Georgia since July.

Attorneys for the state had told the Supreme Court that it is in the public interest not only to overturn McBurney’s ruling, but to block it while the court considers the case.

A ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July allowed Georgia’s 2019 abortion law to be enforced. The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization paved the way for Georgia’s law to take effect.

McBurney said that just because the Dobbs decision overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, it did not retroactively make the 2019 passage of Georgia’s abortion law legal.

In their appeal, attorneys for the state said it doesn’t matter whether the law was not constitutional when it passed the General Assembly in 2019, it is now in line with the law as established by the Dobbs decision.

The Georgia Supreme Court also allowed Saturday voting to proceed in the Runoff Election, according to the AJC.

The brief ruling by the state’s highest court Wednesday clears the way for the weekend voting opportunity in 22 counties that plan to open polling places two days after the Thanksgiving holiday. Early voting will be required statewide from Monday through Friday next week.

The decision is a victory in a lawsuit filed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign as he’s trying to increase turnout ahead of a runoff against Republican Herschel Walker.

The debate over Saturday voting began when [Georgia’s Secretary of State] initially said it would be allowed but then his office reversed course and issued guidance that said it was prohibited.

The General Assembly removed the word “runoff” from the holiday scheduling law in 2017, which plaintiffs said was an indication that legislators wanted voting to be permitted on that Saturday.

Optional early voting days included four days this week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Then early voting is available statewide five days next week until Friday, Dec. 2. State law requires early voting to end the Friday before election day on Dec. 6.

Andy McClure gave a lengthy account of what it was like as a constituent of the late Speaker David Ralston seeking a change in state gun laws, and Mark Millican wrote it up for publication. From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

After David Ralston passed away last week at age 68 — just days after announcing he was relinquishing the speaker’s gavel to address his lingering illness — McClure agreed to talk about his relationship with him and how it impacted what is called “2A” type legislation.

“In 2013, Rick Jasperse (the state representative for District 11 covering Gordon, Murray and Pickens counties) had the Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as House Bill 60,” McClure began. “The press had dubbed it the ‘Carry Guns Everywhere’ bill. You’ll remember when (Gov.) Nathan Deal signed it in Ellijay several years ago. A year or so before that there was a gun bill that had a lot of the same stuff and dealt with ‘church carry’ — changing the law to allow churches the option to legalize firearms in their sanctuaries if they wanted to.”

Because of recent deadly shootings in American churches by those outside the parish, McClure said he was “really, really pushing” that option in churches. According to a 2014 FBI report developed with help from Texas State University, 3.8% of the 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 occurred in houses of worship.

Ralston told McClure HB 60 “just wasn’t in the cards” for Georgia in 2013.

“He said the way things were lining up, we just weren’t going to be able to do it,” McClure recalled. “But he said, ‘Keep talking to me, keep working with me, keep the dialogue going and change my mind.’ So the next year the bill came up again in a more comprehensive (form) that contained more — but (church carry) was one of the sticking points. The House had already passed a version that totally removed churches from the prohibited locations list. It was a done deal, and they sent it over to the Senate.”

But as McClure said, “The Senate had a little bit of heartburn about it, and Gov. Deal had a little bit of heartburn about it.”

“The governor wanted to basically do what we ended up with, which was the ‘opt-in’ language — it’s still on the books as being illegal, but if each individual church takes action it’s legal at that church,” McClure explained of the hybrid package.

On the last day of the legislative session in 2014, McClure took a call.

“It was from a Georgia Carry (organization) friend that was down at the Capitol. He said, ‘Look, Andy, Speaker Ralston said that he is holding up this bill until he hears from you — that you can live with the final version,’” McClure remembered. “And I knew the final version was not what I wanted, but I knew it had a lot of good stuff in it that we could deal with and work with later on. I called and told the assistant there in his office, ‘I know David’s out on the floor on the podium, but I need you to get a message to him. Tell him that Andy McClure said this final version is OK with him, that I can live with it.’ A few hours later it was brought to the floor for a vote, and it passed.”

“(Ralston) talked to me afterwards and said, ‘Are you ready for tomorrow?’” McClure relayed. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ He said, ‘You remember that conversation we had a year ago in my office about keep working with me, don’t shut me out, don’t shut me down, keep the dialogue going? Tomorrow has a lot to do with you, because you kept it going and kept me tuned in to what was really going on. I hear from the lobbyists and all these other people, but I know you’ll tell me straight.’ And I really appreciated that. That was a very big gun bill back then in 2014.”

McClure serves as a deacon at Turniptown Baptist Church and remains involved in the North Georgia School of Gospel Music, currently as president. He became what he calls a “local gun rights activist” after being mugged several years ago, and believes all Georgians should be able to carry a firearm for personal protection. In a 2017 op-ed column that was published in the Ellijay Times-Courier and the Dalton Daily Citizen, McClure stated he is a “huge supporter of getting all of the voluntary (firearm) training one can get/afford.”

He knows heeding David Ralston’s advice to hang in there and not give up was invaluable in the passage of the Safe Carry Protection Act.

Governor Brian Kemp announced the appointment of former State Rep. Kevin Tanner as the new Commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), according to a press release.

Monica Johnson will serve as Interim Commissioner until Mr. Tanner’s start date on December 16.

“Marty and I are thankful for Commissioner Fitzgerald’s service and wish her all the best as she takes well-earned time to spend with her family,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I am also grateful for Ms. Johnson’s willingness to step up and ensure that those living with disabilities in Georgia continue to receive quality services until the new commissioner comes on board. Kevin Tanner is a capable and dedicated leader who has made significant contributions to both the state and his community over more than three decades of public service. It is thanks to his forward thinking approach as head of the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission that Georgia is now implementing meaningful improvements in how we address mental health. The Department will be in good hands under his leadership.”

Governor Kemp also announced that Commissioner Robyn Crittenden has accepted a position in the private sector and will be resigning as head of the Department of Revenue, effective November 25. Deputy State Revenue Commissioner and General Counsel Frank O’Connell will serve as Interim Commissioner until a new head of the Department is appointed.

“Over the past two decades, Robyn has ably led three state agencies and served as the 28th Secretary of State. As the first African-American woman to serve as a statewide constitutional officer in Georgia — along with her many other achievements — Robyn has both made history and made our state better,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Marty and I are very proud of her contributions and congratulate her on this exciting new chapter in an already distinguished career. We also appreciate Frank O’Connell’s service and leadership as he steps into the interim commissioner role.”

Kevin Tanner currently serves as the County Manager of Forsyth. Governor Kemp also appointed him as chair of the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission in 2019, helping to secure meaningful improvements in this field. Previously, he served four terms as a State Representative for District 9 and has a total of thirty-two years in public service.

Prior to his time in the General Assembly, Tanner served as the Dawson County Manager where he oversaw day-to-day operations as the county’s chief operating officer. He was recognized in 2011 as the Appointed Official of the Year by the Georgia Association of County Commissioners and in 2007 as one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 40 under 40.

Tanner received his undergraduate degree from North Georgia College and State University and earned a master’s of public administration from Columbus State University. He and his wife, Stacie, are the proud parents of three daughters, and he serves as a Deacon and adult Sunday school teacher at Bethel Baptist Church.

State House Democrats elected their leadership, according to the AJC.

[State Rep. James] Beverly, a Democrat from Macon, will be the party’s leader in the House, joining incoming Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington who will lead the chamber.

Beverly thanked his fellow Democrats for their support after he overcame a challenge from state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Democrat from Columbus who was Stacey Abrams’ top deputy when she was minority leader.

Several other Democrats also won reelection to their leadership posts, including Minority Whip Sam Park of Lawrenceville, Minority Caucus Chairman Billy Mitchell of Stone Mountain and Minority Caucus Vice Chairwoman Karen Bennett of Stone Mountain.

Does that article mean that Democrats won’t nominate one of their members for Speaker?

Glynn County will not hold an extra day of early voting after a Fulton County judge overruled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation of state law, according to The Brunswick News.

During the public comment period, the arguments were along party lines, with Republicans saying the polls should not open until Monday and Democrats wanting Saturday voting.

Republican Patrick Duncan said poll workers should not have to work during the holiday weekend, and pointed out five days of early voting for the runoff is what the state requires.

“This is not about voter suppression, it’s the law,” he said. “There should be plenty of time.”

Bulloch County also will not add another day of early voting, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County officials aren’t adding Saturday voting in the current runoff between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, after a judge’s ruling allows counties — at least for now — to add voting next Saturday by local decision.

Adding Saturday now would become practicably impossible, especially since Bulloch County’s election office as of late Monday morning had not received its “project,” the software package needed to load the ballots onto the voting machines, said county Election Supervisor Shontay Jones.

The judge’s ruling meant “that the Secretary of State’s Office couldn’t prohibit us from having Saturday voting after Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t requiring us to do so,” Jones noted.

“Our biggest thing is, we still don’t have our project yet to be able to upload and reprogram and test equipment, so our Saturday may be spent doing (logic and accuracy) testing, after Thanksgiving, just to be ready for early voting that Monday (Nov. 28),” she said.

“We did get the (absentee) ballots in, and we have started mailing those out,” Jones said. “I think we may have about a thousand requests to process, so hopefully people should start getting those ballots in the mailboxes soon, be able to vote those and I would say return them as quickly as possible.”

Early voting starts November 27th, according to WALB.

With the race between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker at the forefront. In Lowndes County, early voting starts Nov. 27 and goes until Dec. 2.

“That’s why we’ll start Sunday. That’s the maximum we can possibly squeeze in here for our county. And we hope to have six good days of advanced voting and then election day on the 6th.” Lowndes County Supervisor of Elections, Deb Cox said.

While they are prepared for early voting, Cox says the short amount of time did pose a few challenges.

“We have less time to test all our equipment, test the ballots, get the mailed ballots out, get the poll worker training done. So that naturally shorts the advanced polling time too,” Cox said.

Early voting starts in Lowndes County on November 27, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. It will continue on November 28 through December 2 from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m.x

From the Albany Herald:

Dougherty County voters will have two days of extended voting hours for advance in-person voting at the Albany Civic Center. The polling location will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Dec. 2, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Dec. 1.

[Editor’s note: that last sentence doesn’t make any sense.]

“The (elections) board stated that, of course, we wanted to keep the location the same” as for the general election, Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “The biggest thing is the people really like the location, and that was a factor as well.”

The Dougherty County Commission on Monday approved the $94,000 expenditure to rent the conference room space used for the first round of early voting as well as the cost of staffing the facility.

Muscogee County added a day of early voting, according to WTVM.

Director of Election and Voter Registration Nacey Boren confirmed that voting in Muscogee County would begin on Sunday, Nov. 27.

The election board voted to approve the added day in a meeting this afternoon after about 50 local community leaders and voting advocates showed up.

Now, only the Citizens Service Center in Columbus will be open to voters on that Sunday.

The hours will remain the same, open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. EST.

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, there will be early voting at that location, Columbus Technical College and Shirley B. Winston Recreation Center.

From 13WMAZ:

Several [Middle] Georgia counties have already confirmed they will offer early voting, while others have stated that they will not.

WILL HAVE EARLY VOTING THIS SATURDAY
Bibb
Baldwin
Crawford
Macon

WON’T HAVE EARLY VOTING SATURDAY
Houston
Jones
Laurens
Monroe
Twiggs
Washington
Crisp

From the Augusta Chronicle:

In a special called meeting Monday, the Richmond County Board of Elections unanimously approved adding Sunday, Nov. 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at all polling locations. This will give voters a chance to vote during the weekend, something that was formally requested by Augusta Commissioners Jordan Johnson and Francine Scott as well as state Rep. Gloria Frazier and state Sen. Harold Jones.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections voted Monday night to move the first day of advance in-person voting, also known as early voting, up one day so it will now begin this Saturday. The move came on the heels of court rulings which allow Georgia counties to begin early voting on Saturday, rather than Sunday.

“Saturday is a go, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., (at) all 11 early voting locations,” said county spokeswoman Deborah Tuff on Monday night.

Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Zach Manifold said he does not have any projections for what voter turnout might look like for the runoff. He does not believe absentee ballot requests will offer any clue as to turnout, however, since he believes the timing of the election — between Thanksgiving and Christmas — could be a factor in why people request an absentee ballot for the runoff.

“We’ve had a decent amount of people call already that are interested in ordering an absentee ballot, but I think that uptick has to do with a lot of people are traveling over the holidays so they may not be in town,” Manifold said.

Due to the short turnaround this year between the general election and the runoff election, there will only be seven days of early voting ahead of the runoff. In previous election cycles, there were nine weeks between the general election and the runoff election.

The Georgia General Assembly shortened the window to four weeks last year, however, as part of an overhaul to state election rules. That put the runoff for this year on Dec. 6, less than two weeks from now.

Manifold said each early voting location will maintain election day hours — meaning they will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. — every day of the early voting period.

From WJBF:

In Columbia County, the Board of Elections decided against weekend voting.

“The board of elections met and they are not going to be doing weekend voting for the runoff and I understand why it would be very short noticed and most of their staffing for that for the two early voting precincts already made plans for the Thanksgiving weekend” said Debbie McCord, Chair of Columbia County Republican Party.

“I also feel like it kind of unbalance the playing field for metro Atlanta, because you know they’re going to this and other areas may not be able to generate enough staff to do it” said McCord.

“I’m not opposed to Saturday voting but I think this is kind of a last minute effort and I would be much happier if everybody in the state had the same days and opportunities to do early voting” said McCord.

From the Rome News Tribune:

According to Floyd County Elections Supervisor Akyn Bailey, there will be Sunday voting for the U.S. Senate runoff on Nov. 27 from 1-5 p.m. at the Floyd County elections office on East 12th Street and at the Anthony Recreation Center in Garden Lakes.

The original plan in Floyd County was to have no weekend voting at all, but the decision was made to open the polls this Sunday since it is a shortened runoff period.

Several “Republican” groups are appealing the Fulton County Superior Court decision to allow Saturday early voting in the Runoff Election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

On Monday evening, the Court of Appeals for Georgia refused to block an order from a Fulton County judge allowing Saturday voting in the Senate runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

After that ruling, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which oversees voting, declined to continue the legal battle. The Georgia Republican Party, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Republican National Committee filed the appeal asking the Supreme Court to block the Fulton County ruling.

Hassinger confirmed that the Secretary of State’s office does not plan to join the lawsuit continued by the Republican groups. But Republicans claim the Fulton County ruling, issued on Friday, is a last-minute change.

“Our Republican coalition has appealed with the Georgia Supreme Court because Georgians deserve better than Democrats scheming to change election laws in the eleventh hour,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in a statement.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office certified the results of November’s General Elections, according to the Albany Herald.

“Our 2022 General Election was a tremendous success,” [the SOS] said in a news release. “Early certification reflects that success. Georgia has struck the balance between accessibility and security, and Georgia’s election administrators worked tirelessly to get the job done. We are so thankful for their work.”

Post-election procedures added additional confidence in the accuracy of the results. Last Thursday and Friday, all 159 counties took part in a statewide Risk Limiting Audit of the Secretary of State’s contest. The results of the audit confirmed the accuracy of the results at a 95% risk limit, 5% higher than required by state law.
Candidates seeking a recount must request one within two business days after certification. Under O.C.G.A. § 21-2-495, a recount can be requested by the second-place candidate if the difference in votes between the winning candidate and second-place candidate is not more than 0.5% of the total votes cast in the race.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has been sued over blocking a Georgia resident on Twitter, according to the AJC.

A candidate who sought to unseat Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) Vice Chairman Tim Echols has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Echols blocked her and others from his social media accounts over criticism of his performance.

Patty Durand, who was the Democratic nominee this year for the PSC District 2 seat, alleges Echols blocked her from social media accounts that identify him as a commissioner and where he regularly communicates official business to thousands of followers, according to a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Durand alleges that by blocking her, Echols denied her and others the ability to view or comment on matters of public interest, a violation of her right to free speech under the First Amendment.

Durand, who has said she intends to challenge Echols again, details in her complaint a number of online interactions in which she questioned Echols’ relationships with Georgia Power and his support for Plant Vogtle, among other criticisms. The Vogtle nuclear power project is years behind schedule and billions over budget.

The suit says Echols blocked Durand sometime after July 21. Durand contends none of her comments were threatening, obscene or defamatory. The complaint also claims other critics have been blocked.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission filed a complaint against Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard, according to the Gainesville Times.

The complaint was initiated by the commission and filed Nov. 14 against Woodard, who was appointed in 2008 as Solicitor General and re-elected multiple times.

The complaint alleged that Woodard did not file her personal financial disclosure statements in 2018-2020 and then failed to file the 2021 and 2022 disclosure statements in a timely manner.

The commission has also subpoenaed Woodard for bank records related to her campaign account to be received by Dec. 14. It includes bank statements, deposit/withdrawal slips, checks, wire transfers and any other banking transactions from November 2017 to now.

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