Electoral vote counting is the oldest activity of the national government and among the oldest questions of constitutional law. It was Congress’s first task when a quorum appeared in the nation’s new legislature on April 6, 1789. It has happened every four years since then. Yet, electoral vote counting remains one of the least understood aspects of our constitutional order.
The Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA) lies at the heart of this confusion. In enacting the ECA, Congress drew on lessons learned from its twenty-five previous electoral counts; it sorted through innumerable proposals floated before and after the disastrous presidential election of 1876; and it thrashed out the ECA’s specific provisions over fourteen years of sustained debate. Still, the law invites misinterpretation. The ECA is turgid and repetitious. Its central provisions seem contradictory. Many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long. Proponents of the law admitted it was “not perfect.” Contemporary commentators were less charitable. John Burgess, a leading political scientist in the late nineteenth century, pronounced the law unwise, incomplete, premised on contradictory principles, and expressed in language that was “very confused, almost unintelligible.” At least he thought the law was constitutional; others did not.
Over the nearly 120 years since the ECA’s adoption, the criticisms faded, only to be renewed whenever there was a close presidential election. Our ability to misunderstand the ECA has grown over time. During the 2000 presidential election dispute, politicians, lawyers, commentators, and Supreme Court justices seemed prone to misstate or misinterpret the provisions of the law, even those provisions which were clear to the generation that wrote them. The Supreme Court, for example, mistakenly believed that the Supreme Court of Florida’s erroneous construction of its election code would deny Florida’s electors the ECA’s “safe harbor” protection; Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s hasty submission of his state’s Certificate of Ascertainment was untimely under the Act; and Democratic members of Congress framed their objections to accepting Florida’s electoral vote on the wrong grounds. Even Al Gore, the presidential candidate contesting the election’s outcome, misread the federal deadline for seating Florida’s electors.
Only the United States Congress could so obfuscate a matter as seemingly simple as counting that its Act remained undecipherable for more than one hundred years.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
President Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924 in Washington, DC. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stan-ton) and spent most of his youth to age 14 in Augusta, Georgia. Wilson started practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia in 1882, leaving the next year to pursue a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. His wife, Ellen Louise Axson, was from Savannah, and they married in Rome, Ga in 1885.
Election officials who oversaw the Republican primary and resulting special election in House District 28 were questioned in a lawsuit by former State Rep. Dan Gasaway, according to AccessWDUN.Continue Reading..
Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.
On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded in a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing a police officer. Eric Rudolph would later admit to setting that bomb, along with the Centennial Park bombing in 1996, and the bombing of a Sandy Springs abortion clinic and an Atlanta bar in 1997.
thanks to a partnership between Rashad’s Top Dogg K9 and the Gwinnett County Jail, the nonprofit is helping yet another segment of the population: inmates.
Coordinated through the jail’s Operation Second Chance, or more colloquially known, the Jail Dogs program, Rashad teaches inmates the basics of service dog training, building on what they have already learned through Operation Second Chance.
Since its inception in 2010, the Jail Dogs program — a partnership between the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and Society of Humane Friends of Georgia that saves dogs from the county’s animal shelter by using inmates to train the animals until they are adoptable — has successfully adopted out more than 400 dogs.
Rashad is hoping that now some of those dogs will go to veterans.
“We’ve been getting dogs from many different places — breeders or shelters, most of our dogs are rescues, whether they’re pure-bred or not,” Rashad said. “About 40 to 50 percent of the dogs that come in can actually do this (service) work, though, so one of the big challenges was getting enough dogs for the veterans. It’s not uncommon to have 600, 700 people on our (wait) list.”
The movement to a constitutional board came after the loss of accreditation of all Georgia state higher education institutions for white people. The previous Governor, Eugene Talmadge, had engineered the firing of UGA’s Dean of the College of Education; after the Board of Regents initially refused to fire the Dean, Talmadge dismissed three members, and replaced them with new appointees who voted for the firing. Talmadge lost the 1942 election to Arnall.
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff as many Americans watched on live television. President Ronald Reagan addressed the loss of seven astronauts.
Reagan had originally been scheduled to give his State of the Union that evening, but cancelled the speech. His address on the Challenger disaster was written by Peggy Noonan. The speech written by Noonan and delivered by Reagan is ranked as one of the top ten political speeches of the 20th Century.
House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, who hails from rural Luthersville and who has filed a measure that would fully expand Medicaid, said the “ground is softer” this year for a major health-care measure.
“The mere presence of (the waiver) in the budget is a signal that there is momentum on the issue,” Trammell said in remarks at the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s conference in downtown Atlanta.
Sen. Dean Burke, a Republican from Bainbridge and an influential voice on heath care in the Senate, said he believes there is a growing acknowledgement that more resources need to go toward rural health care.
He said there is significant momentum for a waiver, although much will depend on the details of such a proposal and he anticipates a “robust discussion” on how a waiver is designed.
“There are strong, strong feelings on both sides of that issue,” said Burke, who is also a doctor and an administrator at a rural hospital. “If it was a simple issue, we would have settled it by now.”
State lawmakers are considering ways to hold runoffs closer to the dates of primary and general elections, while still giving time for military and overseas voters to mail absentee ballots. Federal law requires election officials to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before a federal election.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican from Marietta, would allow military and overseas voters to return absentee ballots by email or fax. She sought the legislation to make it easier for military members to vote after a friend deployed in Germany rushed to get her vote in on time.
While Kirkpatrick’s bill, Senate Bill 30, wouldn’t shorten Georgia’s runoff period, she said it would start the discussion.
“Nobody wants to be in campaigns, either the candidates or the constituents, for nine more weeks,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s so long because we have to allow time for those military absentee ballots to come in.”
New legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives aims to eliminate the so-called “tampon tax,” which requires consumers to pay sales tax on feminine products that many consider a medical necessity.
House Bill 8, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City, would exempt tampons, pads and other menstrual products from Georgia’s sales tax. Other medical items, such as prescription medications, insulin syringes and hearing aids, are already tax-free.
“There’s no male equivalent for this product,” Buckner said in an interview with The Telegraph. “And so, when you look at the fact that this is something that happens to women, essentially, once a month for forty years, they’re being taxed for a medical product or device that is a necessity, not an option.”
It’s a very simple request, Buckner said.
“It is merely putting another medical device in the codes section or in the Georgia law where the other tax-exempt medical devices are listed,” she said.
Menstrual products are classified by the Federal Drug Administration as medical devices and should be treated as such in the tax code, Buckner added.
In honor of the late John Meadows, the Resolution 5 dedicated the mezzanine located at the southern portion of the state Capitol between the third and fourth floors as the John Meadows Mezzanine.
Meadows, a decorated veteran who served as a Calhoun City Council member, city mayor and eventually a representative in the House and chairman for the powerful rules committee, made a huge impact on his fellow politicians, the citizens he represented and his peers.
“He diligently and conscientiously devoted innumerable hours of his time, talents and energy toward the betterment of his community and state,” said Ralston during the reading. “By the example he made of his life, he made this world a better place in which to live.”
The mezzanine in which Meadows’ final legislative office was located will represent his dedicated service and devotion to his community and state. A plaque will be produced and authorized in the mezzanine, designating the place to be in honor of Meadows.
The event is a daylong conference organized to educate the public about the rise of trafficking and to encourage collaboration between local agencies, according to Heather Bilton, Savannah Traffick Jam co-organizer.
“We are really pushing partnerships and want people to understand that we do live in a beautiful city, but we have a trafficking issue,” she said. “It’s critical that we do have that partnership and the key is for people to speak up. If something doesn’t look right to you, you need to say something.”
“Our main goal this year was to bring in the transportation industry to show that it happens at a lot of the truck stops,” said Bill Gettis, SIDC president and chairman. “Amtrak stations have also been noticed as well. . .We want people to know that human trafficking is in Savannah and we want them to recognize the signs and find out what is being done. A lot of people don’t know that there are a lot of organizations in Savannah that are working to stop it.”
“The Super Bowl is the biggest day for trafficking,” said Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors International, a nonprofit dedicated to leveraging connections with the airline industry to facilitate humanitarian efforts. “Human trafficking is growing so fast and we have to talk about it.”
Former county commissioners Mark Bedner, who represented District 2, Cap Fendig, at-large, and Tommy Clark, District 1, and former mayor of Brunswick Brad Brown understand the need for infrastructure maintenance.
All four campaigned for the old tollbooth’s removal — which became a reality in 2003 — and all four oppose a new toll on the Torras causeway, which has been the subject of much discussion on the current Glynn County Commission.
Efforts to have the booth removed began as early as 1999 when Fendig was an at-large county commissioner-elect preparing to enter office. While that toll was a state-imposed and state-run, he said the commission can take lessons from it when talking about a new toll.
“As a guy coming into office, I went on a fact-finding mission, like anyone would do, to find out what the issues were, what was going on. Nobody was asking about the toll, so I went to Atlanta and got a meeting with Dan Guimond (the tollway authority director at the time), and he gave the rundown on what it was and so forth,” Fendig said.
Bedner said records showed $7 million in excess funds were going towards a variety of things, none of which were causeway maintenance. The GDOT had been using its general fund for causeway repairs.
“We really felt like the state had robbed Glynn County over the years because the surplus had been built up over the years and it really never came back,” Bedner said.
Davis, an eight-year council member and retired firefighter, represented District 6. He was first elected in 2011.
“He was probably one of my best friends and just a very a good man,” said Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms. “He’s going to be missed.
Davis served on the Warner Robins Fire Department from 1973 until his retirement in 2008, according to the biography. He began broadcasting high school football in 1994. He was a member of Southside Baptist Church.
The SOWEGA Council on Aging is conducting the first of two public hearings at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave.
“Part of what we do every year is provide public hearings,” Council on Aging Executive Director Izzie Sadler said. “(We invite people to) come and provide feedback and identify gaps in services.”
Among the ways such gaps are addressed is advocating for funding. Sadler said an issue recently voiced by senior citizens in southwest Georgia in prior public hearings is a lack of transportation services to and from doctor’s appointments.
From that, additional resources were implemented to help fill the transportation gap.
“We opened up a new program effective in all of our counties (to help with transportation),” Sadler said. “We are trying to get in touch with the community (to let them know about it.)
A homeless count is conducted across Georgia every two years not just as a simple tally, but as a way to secure funding for service agencies that work on behalf of those without permanent shelter.
“Unfortunately, when that count was done in 2017, the vast majority of the data was unusable or incomplete,” said Michael Fisher, housing program planner with Ninth District Opportunity, Inc. in Gainesville, which is coordinating this year’s count in Hall, White and Habersham counties.
Several changes are being made this time around in an effort to remedy those mistakes and secure funding for local support services for the homeless.
For example, this year’s count will be conducted using a mobile phone application, rather than paper surveys, and the demographic data collected can be immediately transmitted to the state Department of Community Affairs and then onto the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Late Mrs. GaPundit volunteered in the Atlanta point-in-time counts for many years.
The Rome City Commission is slated to hold a first reading tonight of a new ordinance that would ban smoking — to include vaping — in almost every place open to the public.
A prohibition on outdoor smoking in the downtown district is also part of the ordinance, which was vetted by the city’s public safety committee earlier this month.
“The overarching principle is to protect people who don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke, to allow them to go into these places,” said Dr. JC Abdou of Harbin Clinic, spokesman for Breatheasy Rome.
The biggest change to the city’s existing smoking ordinance would be in the downtown district. The ban covers all publicly owned outdoor areas on Broad Street between East First Avenue and East Eighth Avenue. It also includes the side streets for a block off Broad, the Town Green, the public parking decks and Bridgepoint Plaza.
Police spokesman Carlos Campos said in an email Sunday that there would be a zero-tolerance policy for drones flying in areas that include Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center, State Farm Arena, Centennial Olympic Park and the Fox Theatre.
Campos said hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers will be watching for illegal drone use in the prohibited areas.
John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.
In 1940, the city of Atlanta and Delta had signed an agreement whereby the city agreed to contribute $50,000 for construction of a new hanger and office building for Delta if it would move its headquarters to Atlanta. In turn, Delta agreed to pay the remaining construction costs and then assume a 20-year lease for the new facilities. On Jan. 16, 1941, Delta had secured a $500,000 loan from Atlanta’s Trust Company of Georgia, thus allowing it to make a public announcement of the move.
The Georgia Poultry Lab in Hall County needs $4 million dollars in repairs, according to Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. From the Gainesville Times:
The 39,500-square-foot laboratory facility, which opened in January 2015 at the Gateway Industrial Centre business park off Ga. 365 in North Hall County, monitors and tests for diseases, such as avian influenza, and inspects hatcheries to ensure the state’s poultry flock is healthy for consumption.
In an interview with The Times on Thursday, Black said the public is not in danger.
“They do not need to worry about whether the lab is compromised such that we cannot meet our mission,” he said. “We need to vaporize that myth. We have a couple of contingency plans.”
There has been no trickle-down impact, thus far, on Hall County’s poultry processing plants. State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, told The Times that he thinks the $4 million would likely be allocated in a two-step process, with some money for a redesign and some money for construction, “rather than all in one budget.”
“The poultry lab plays an integral part in protecting the No. 1 industry in Georgia,” Miller said, adding that making the fixes is an important item to the governor and legislature.
Former Augusta commissioner Bernard Harper has joined four other candidates in the special election for Augusta Commission District 5, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Harper joins retired Richmond County educator Bobby Williams, small business owner Kelby Walker and interim Commissioner Johnny Few, all of whom qualified Wednesday. The winner will serve out the term of Commissioner Andrew Jefferson, who died in November.
For the past 10 years, the Richmond County Coroner’s Office and Donor Services at AU Medical Center have played host to the service to educate coroners and build a working relationship with other counties.
Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen said the service provides continuing education credits for coroners and firefighters, but does not take the place of the 24-hour training class required by the state that is typically held in August.
“It’s a learning experience but it’s also a bonding experience,” he said. “We get to meet and talk to other coroners, firefighters, and law enforcement from different counties and make connections to work together.”
Coroners from about 20 counties were at the training, which spans two days. Speakers included Rae Wooten, coroner for Charleston County in South Carolina, and representatives of the Southern Police Benevolent Association and the Georgia State Patrol.
Topics included how to handle mass fatalities, traffic incident management, and addiction among public safety officers.
For a third day Thursday, government workers and volunteers looked behind shopping centers and abandoned buildings, under bridges and in parks and campgrounds to find and count Augusta’s homeless population.
“The message we want to get across is that this is not just a county initiative. We want this count and what we’re bringing to it this year to spark further conversations about how we go about eradicating this epidemic of homelessness,” said Hawthorne Welcher, head of the city Housing and Development department, which leads Augusta’s role in the count.
The national “Point-in-Time Count” of the homeless has for about two decades attempted to obtain an accurate, unduplicated count of homeless people in an area. The city has typically done its count during a single night, but this year is going out for five days to reach as many “unsheltered” homeless – those living on the street – as possible, Welcher said.
The group surveyed between 220 and 230 on its first night, Tuesday, and Welcher said he expects the count to easily double last year’s of around 800 when they finish Saturday.
The Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services is leading the effort on the point-in-time count, which is conducted with 70 different agencies and hundreds of volunteers every two years.
More than 600 volunteers will be dispatched to all corners of Gwinnett County from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31. Homeless population counts are regularly conducted by cities and counties across the country in order to assess who makes up that population and what they need, said Keith Fenton, the Gwinnett Coalition’s chief operating officer.
“This will help us understand how many are homeless, why are they homeless and what the circumstances are that led them to be homeless,” Fenton said.
Putting a number on the homeless population in Gwinnett County is difficult, Fenton said. The last point-in-time count, conducted in January 2017, counted 263 homeless people, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. But even with hundreds of volunteers over multiple days, it’s extremely difficult to get a full count of the homeless population, Fenton said.
“Nobody really knows the exact numbers of homelessness in Gwinnett County,” he said.
Georgia’s infrastructure still needs improvement, according to a report card from the Georgia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. From the Dalton Daily Citizen:
This year’s overall grade was a C+ in the group’s 2019 Report Card for Georgia’s Infrastructure, which was released this week. That’s up only slightly from a C in 2014, when the group last graded the state.
Dan Agramonte, who co-chaired the report card committee, said it will take time to fully measure the impact of some changes, such as the 2015 transportation measure that boosted state funding.
His group acknowledged the strides made in recent years, such as a push for regional transit in metro Atlanta, an expanding Savannah port, the hiring of more dam inspectors and the new funding for roads and bridges.
“These achievements acknowledge that infrastructure is not a political issue,” Agramonte said. “It’s a Georgia issue, impacting our state’s commerce and economic growth and quality of life.
Much of the Valdosta Housing Authority’s funding comes from federal sources, said Mark Stalvey, VHA’s executive director.
“We’re getting updates on the situation twice a week, not from (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) but from industry groups,” he said.
HUD’s website says the department is completely shut down pending the outcome of the squabble between President Donald Trump and Congress over money for his proposed Mexican border wall.
The local housing authority operates 542 apartments and homes for about 1,700 people in Valdosta, including the Ora Lee West and Hudson Dockett properties, with tenants paying about 30 percent of their income for rent, Stalvey said. Rent levels are determined on a sliding scale according to income.
“We have secured funding through February,” Stalvey said. “If we go into March (with the shutdown), we don’t know what will happen.”
Members of the Savannah City Council and city staff were in Atlanta on Thursday to speak with lawmakers and state officials about the issue, as well as other priorities they would like to see addressed during this year’s legislative session.
Mayor Eddie DeLoach said the city manager was attempting to work out a compromise with state officials while at the Capitol regarding the extension project, which runs through portions of Savannah and Port Wentworth in the upper northwest corner of Chatham County.
“I think we’ve got some ideas we can present so we can improve that situation over there,” DeLoach said. “We have to get a buy-in from [GDOT] on this.”
Aaron gets regular check-ups from the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical staff in the Care Mobile van, provided by the Ronald McDonald House in partnership with the Atlanta pediatric system. The 40-foot-long van, which targets children with asthma, also visits other Atlanta public schools.
Students get their vital signs checked, then are examined by medical staffers, including nurse practitioner Martha Cargill.
“It’s a saving grace for me,’’ says Aaron’s mother, Alicia Johnson, who’s also a teacher at the school. “I don’t have to leave work. For several months now, he hasn’t had to go to the emergency room. They take care of the whole child.’’
Asthma is the leading cause of hospital admissions at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital, Cargill says.
The goals are to prevent ER visits and hospitalizations and keep parents at work, says Cargill, the nurse practitioner. “Our mission is to bring asthma management to where kids live, learn and play.’’
Jeffrey Gay Jr. died in 2012 from an opioid overdose, and his grandfather Dallas Gay has become a staunch opioid safety advocate in the community.
Dallas Gay took the stage following Paglia to discuss opioids as the “greatest man-made health care crisis.” The number of drug overdose deaths from 1999-2017 is more than 700,000, a death count greater than the Civil War. The death count, however, is only one number that does not portray the depth of the epidemic, Gay said.
“Shame on you, shame on me, shame on our nation if we let this horrible epidemic pass down to our children and grandchildren simply because we didn’t have the will to change it,” he said.
The government closure has already begun to affect individuals who aren’t federal employees, according to a GMFB news release, and GMFB officials are concerned about the long-term effects this may have on the communities they serve. Those who have been negatively impacted by the shutdown can collect food free of charge Friday at St. John Baptist Church on E.E. Butler Parkway in Gainesville from 3:30-5:30.
“Since the shutdown began, the Feeding America network has been operating in high-gear, providing food assistance to ensure families and individuals have enough to eat,” according to the GMFB release. “GMFB, a partner distribution organization of the ACFB and Feeding America, has seen an increase in the number of people reaching out for food assistance. If the government closure continues, safety net programs like SNAP, WIC and school meals could be affected.”
For a complete list of GMFB’s feeding partners and programs in Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin and Union counties, visit gamountainfoodbank.org/who-we-feed/ or call (770) 534-4111.
North Augusta resident [Tommy Tucker] has worked at the Edgefield federal correctional institution since 2001, and has no intention of leaving. However, this Friday will be the second paycheck he will receive that reads “zero.”
“Things like mortgage have to be paid, the electric company still wants their money,” Tucker said. “Because of our jobs we have to maintain a phone line so things like cell phones have to be paid, we still have to make ends meet.”
Though the federal government has been shut down several times during Tucker’s tenure at the prison, he said none have affected his pay like this one.
Shann Coleman is the manager of Jet’s Bar and Grill in Edgefield. He said many of his customers are employees at the federal prison, and his restaurant is seeing the effects of the shutdown.
“We’ve only had two customers (from the prison) when we were averaging 20-25 customers a day,” Coleman said. “These are people we’re really depending on for our money flow.”
On January 24, 1987, some 12,000 to 20,000 civil rights protesters marched in Forsyth County, a week after a smaller protest. From the New York Times reporting:
CUMMING, Ga., Jan. 24— This small town in Forsyth County was overwhelmed today by civil rights marchers, members of the Ku Klux Klan and their sympathizers and an army of National Guardsmen and law-enforcement officers who kept the opposing groups separated.
Guarded by what a spokesman for the Governor’s office called ”the greatest show of force the state has ever marshalled,” a crowd of marchers estimated at 12,000 to 20,000 funneled slowly into Cumming, where a week earlier counterdemonstrators, throwing stones and bottles, disrupted an interracial ”walk for brotherhood” prompted by the all-white county’s racist legacy.
As the marchers headed into Cumming, which has a little more than 2,000 people, they found waiting for them, behind a stern-faced force of 2,300 guardsmen and police officers, a group of hundreds if not thousands of white, mainly young, rural men and women, repeatedly shouting, “N***er, go home!”
Whatever the final figure, the march was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since a 1965 rally that followed a march from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery. The rally, led by Dr. King, drew 25,000 people.