Category: Georgia Politics

4
Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Fox News:

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

Kemp, who was interviewed on “The Ingraham Angle,” was referring to surveillance video that allegedly showed poll watchers being led out of a room at State Farm Arena, the state’s largest vote-counting center, after being told that the vote count was complete for the night. Once they left, a woman could be seen pulling out suitcases from underneath a table that allegedly contained ballots. The votes were allegedly counted for hours, with no election supervisors present, CBS46.com reported.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 3, 2020

628px-Grand_Union_Flag.svg

On December 3, 1775, the Grand Union Flag, comprising the Union Jack with thirteen red-and-white stripes was raised for the first time by Lieutenant John Paul Jones over the USS Alfred, a colonial warship. The flag would be used by Continental forces thorugh 1776 and early 1777.

USS Alfred

On December 3, 1776, General George Washington wrote Congress that he had moved most of his army across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

On December 3, 1864, Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman skirmished against Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry at Thomas’ Station in Burke County, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump added a Valdosta rally to his Saturday schedule, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

2
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 2, 2020

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

So, this happened yesterday:

From the New York Times:

In one of the most striking rebukes to President Trump since he launched his baseless attacks on the American electoral process, a top-ranking Georgia election official lashed out at the president on Tuesday for failing to condemn threats of violence against people overseeing the voting system in his state.

“It has to stop,” Gabriel Sterling, a Republican and Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said at an afternoon news conference at the state Capitol, his voice shaking with emotion. “Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language.”

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” Mr. Sterling said. He added that the president needed to “step up” and say, “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed. And it’s not right.”

Mr. Sterling also called on the state’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, to condemn the rhetoric that he said was getting dangerously out of hand. The two senators, both Trump loyalists, have called for Mr. Raffensperger to resign.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said: “The campaign is focused on ensuring that all legal votes are counted and all illegal votes are not. No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”

But Mr. Sterling said that “the straw that broke the camel’s back” had involved a threat against a 20-year-old contractor for a voting system company in Gwinnett County. He said the young worker had been targeted by someone who hung a noose and declared that the worker should be “hung for treason,” simply for doing a routine element of his job. Mr. Sterling did not provide any other details.

“I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have right now over this,” he said. “And every American, every Georgian, Republican and Democrat alike, should have that same level of anger.”

Continue Reading..

1
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 1, 2020

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On December 1, 1824, the election for President of the United States, in which no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, went to the United States House of Representatives.

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes; John Quincy Adams–the son of John Adams, the second president of the United States–received 84 electoral and 108,740 popular votes; Secretary of State William H. Crawford, who had suffered a stroke before the election, received 41 electoral votes; and Representative Henry Clay of Virginia won 37 electoral votes.

As dictated by the Constitution, the election was then turned over to the House of Representatives. The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House. Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected.

The City of Sandy Springs began operations at one second after midnight on December 1, 2005. Three years later, Dunwoody became a new city, on December 1, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Runoff Election day in some areas of Georgia. From the AJC:

The two men competing to fill the remainder of John Lewis’ congressional term already faced the prospect of a low-turnout runoff where the winner will serve for just one month.

But it’s gotten even harder for Kwanza Hall, a former Atlanta city councilman, and Robert Franklin, president emeritus of Morehouse College, to get through to voters ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoffs that will determine the balance of power in Washington have siphoned resources and attention. Social media companies are enforcing a moratorium on political ads, taking away an inexpensive tool that Hall and Franklin could have used to connect with voters and clear up any confusion or misinformation.

But the winner will serve for a month — filling out Lewis’ term — then pass the title on to Williams.

Once the runoff results are certified, the winner can be sworn into Congress and start working right away.

Congress must pass legislation by Dec. 11 in order to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers also intend to approve a defense policy bill that has grown controversial because of a provision that calls on military bases named after Confederate leaders to be renamed. Georgia has two: Fort Benning and Fort Gordon.

There is also a chance some type of coronavirus stimulus will be put up for a vote during the month of December.

From the Reporter Newspapers:

[Former State Senator, now Congresswoman-elect Nikema] Williams previously held the District 39 state Senate seat, which also includes part of southern Buckhead. Williams left that seat to make her run for Congress, triggering a special Democratic primary to replace her.

Sonya Halpern and Linda Pritchett were the top finishers in a four-way race for the seat Nov. 3. In the Dec. 1 runoff, voters will choose one of them to be the next state senator.

The state Senate race is a separate election from the 5th Congressional District election. Voters will have to specifically request the ballots for each race and vote in them separately, but that can be done the same day at the same polling place.

From the Athens Banner Herald:

Voters will decide who will serve as the next Western Judicial Circuit district attorney in a runoff Tuesday that’s so far attracted low turnout.

Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, the leading vote-getter in the Nov. 3 election, faces James Chafin, who finished second, running without a party label but with strong Republican support.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in Clarke and Oconee counties, which comprise the Western Judicial Circuit.

From the Champion Newspaper:

Gerald Evans and Julie Newman will likely be the candidates headed to a runoff election to fill the remaining term of former District 1 councilman Robert Patrick.

The two were the top vote getters in the seven-candidate field, with Evans receiving 20.44 percent, or 488 votes, and Newman receiving just 22 less votes.

The winner in the runoff will serve through Dec. 31, 2021, representing the northernmost part of the city.

Polk County Commission District 2 voters return to the polls in a Special Runoff Election today, according to the Polk Standard Journal.

Advance in-person voting in the Dec. 1 runoff for Polk County Commissioner District 2 started last Monday, Nov. 23 and finished Wednesday, Nov. 25 with 275 ballots cast at the Polk County Elections Office.

The runoff between Ricky Clark and Linda Liles is needed after none of the five candidates in the special election on the Nov. 3 ballot received 50% plus one of the total vote.

Any absentee ballots for the Dec. 1 runoff must be returned to the elections office by 7 p.m. on Dec. 1. With such a short window, officials are encouraging voters to use the drop box located at the county annex building at 144 West Ave. in Cedartown.

Nearly a million Absentee Ballots have been requested in the Senate runoff elections, according to CNN.

More than 940,000 mail-in ballots have been requested in Georgia for the January 5 runoff election that will decide which party controls the Senate, Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting systems implementation manager, said Monday.

That includes 604,255 people who are eligible to receive mail-in ballots automatically, according to Sterling. For comparison, 1,322,529 absentee ballots were cast in November’s general election, according to a release from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Sterling said that 1,040 ballots have been returned so far, a “small trickle that we expect to get larger soon.”

The election process has been underway since earlier this month, with November 18 as the earliest date for a registrar to mail an absentee ballot. December 7 marks the voter registration deadline to vote in the federal runoff election, and advanced in-person or early voting begins for the general election runoff for federal offices on December 14.

COVID is presenting challenges for elections offices recruiting poll workers, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Without poll workers, we won’t have enough precincts to serve the community that needs them and that’s where we see the long lines and voter discrepancies,” said Malbrough. “So we need to make sure we have adequately staffed elections, so we know we have a free and fair one.”

It’s an uphill battle. Election workers who are busy recounting the November presidential ballots are being run “into the ground” as state voting systems implementation manager Gabriel Sterling said in a recent press conference.

Some county officials say they are worried that, along with being burned out, potential poll workers will be put off by the surge in coronavirus cases and the timing of the runoff right after the holidays.

“It’s harder to get people during the holiday season, so for our early voting workers, we’re challenged to getting those because that’s right through the holidays,” said Janine Eveler, director of elections and registration in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s office is investigating whether out-of-state residents are falsely registering to vote for the Runoff elections, according to the Macon Telegraph.

State election officials are investigating at least four groups for allegedly attempting to register out-of-state residents as Georgia voters ahead of two U.S. Senate runoffs in January.

Investigations into alleged voting irregularities tied to the Nov. 3 election continue, but the secretary of state’s office has previously said there is no evidence of widespread foul play or tampering that would have affected the outcome.

Raffensperger identified four groups:

America Votes: The organization allegedly sent absentee ballot applications to people at addresses they haven’t lived at since 1994.

Vote Forward: The group allegedly attempted to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia.

The New Georgia Project: The organization allegedly sent voter registration applications to New York City. The group was founded by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Operation New Voter Registration Georgia: The group allegedly told out-of-state college students that they could change their residency and register to vote only in the Jan. 5 election before changing it back.

“Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony,” Raffensperger said. “These third party groups have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible.”

Richmond and Columbia counties began recounting ballots in the Presidential election, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Watching from the Richmond County observation room but without official credentials to go inside, two Republican observers remarked that the scanners weren’t checking ballot signatures. Trump, without evidence, has claimed another review of signatures would reveal widespread fraud, and the state certified election results weeks ago.

“What they’re doing today is not comparing the signatures on the absentee ballots,” said retired engineer Mark Knoderer.

When Georgia elections offices received ballots by mail, signatures were compared with that on a voter’s registration, in a process used for decades. The signed envelopes are then removed to ensure the voter’s identity is not attached to the vote selections.

Observer Brett English said voters’ privacy might be less important than an accurate result.

“At what point is that outweighed by the right to an accurate election for everyone?” English said.

Vice President Mike Pence will rally Republicans in Savannah on Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Pence will return to Georgia for a Defend the Majority Rally in Savannah on Friday at an airport hanger on L.P. Owens Drive.

The Vice President will “deliver remarks on the historic accomplishments of the Trump Administration and the Republican Senate Majority, along with the importance of fighting for conservative legislators,” according to a press release from the Georgia GOP.

Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will be attending as well. The two incumbents are facing off in a Jan. 5 runoff against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

Doors to the event open at 12:30 p.m., and the program begins at 2:30 p.m.

As we’ve noted before, President Trump will be in Georgia this weekend. From AccessWDUN:

Republicans acknowledge Trump as the GOP’s biggest turnout driver, including in Georgia, where Biden won by fewer than 13,000 votes out of about 5 million cast. That means every bit of enthusiasm from one of Trump’s signature rallies could matter.

But some Republicans worry Trump will use the platform to amplify his baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud — arguments roundly rejected in state and federal courts across the country. That could make it harder for Perdue and Loeffler to keep a clear focus on the stakes in January and could even discourage Republicans from voting.

“The president has basically taken hostage this race,” said Brendan Buck, once a top adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Trump’s comments are damaging the Republican brand,” argued Republican donor Dan Eberhart, who added that the president is “acting in bad sportsmanship and bad faith” instead of emphasizing Republicans’ need to maintain Senate control.

Trump on Monday blasted Gov. Brian Kemp as “hapless” for not intervening to “overrule” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s certification of Biden’s win.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) pushed back on claims of election fraud, according to the AJC.

The lieutenant governor became the highest-profile Republican to defend Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after Trump blasted both for refusing his demands to interfere with the results of Georgia’s election over false claims of a “rigged” outcome.

In an appearance on CNN late Monday, Duncan said he was “concerned about the amount of misinformation that continues to fly around” involving President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia, which made him the first Democratic nominee to carry the state since 1992.

“It troubles me that some folks are willing, just for the sole intent of flipping an election, of spreading misinformation,” said Duncan, who spoke of friends who sent him pro-Trump conspiracy theories that took him seconds to debunk.

“I think we’re better than this. My hope is that we move past this here in Georgia and as a country.”

The Port of Savannah set an all-time record for container throughput, according to the Savannah Morning News.

October proved to be another busy month for the Port of Savannah with container volumes reaching 464,095 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), up 35,714 TEUs or 8.3% compared to the same month last year.

It marked the best overall month on record in the history of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), surpassing the previous record of 441,600 TEUs, which was set in August. July through October trade totaled 1.68 million TEUs, an increase of 55,378, or 3.4% for the fiscal year to date.

Griff Lynch, GPA executive director, said he was pleased with the growth, which is partially due to retailers making up for inventory, lost time and a compressed season.

“We have a stronger peak season than we anticipated and it’s being done in a smaller amount of time, a smaller window of time and so that’s putting pressure on the supply chain all over the U.S. right now,” he said.

COVID News

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 11.30.20.01, renewing the Public Health State of Emergency and E.O. 11.30.20.02, providing guidance on social protocols for slowing the disease progression. From the Press Release:

On November 30, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed Executive Order 11.30.20.01 and Executive Order 11.30.20.02, extending Georgia’s Public Health State of Emergency until January 8, 2021, and extending current COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order 11.30.20.02 also includes changes that allow nurses and pharmacists to administer the pending COVID-19 vaccine, including in a drive-thru setting, and permits any nurse or pharmacist to observe patients for the requisite 15 minute window after receiving the vaccine.

Both Orders take effect on December 1, 2020 at 12:00 AM. Executive Order 11.30.20.02 runs through December 15 at 11:59 PM.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Kemp ordered a suspension of all laws and regulations that limit the types of vaccines pharmacists or nurses may administer. The administration of vaccines will be limited to patients over the age of 18. He also suspended laws that prohibit administering a vaccine while the patient remains in their vehicle.

Additionally, Kemp waived laws that require the administering pharmacist or nurse to observe the patient for at least 15 minutes after a vaccine is administered. It is suspended to the extent that any pharmacist or nurse, not necessarily the one who administered the vaccine, must observe the patient for at least 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered.

Local governments may still choose to issue mask mandates if their county reports 100 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period.

Shelter in place requirements remain in effect for residents of long-term care facilities and Georgians with certain medical conditions. However, visitors are allowed at long-term care facilities if certain public health reopening guidelines tied to cases, testing and other metrics are met.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday he expects health-care workers and nursing home residents in the state to start receiving vaccines in the second or third week of December, noting several state agencies have been preparing to move quickly on distribution as soon as the initial vaccine shipments arrive.

“Obviously, that timeline could change, but that is what we’re shooting for right now,” Kemp said at a meeting with local nursing home administrators.

“I’m confident that when the vaccine is authorized … that we will be ready to distribute that,” he added.

The general public should expect to have access to COVID-19 vaccines sometime between May and July of 2021 after officials have prioritized more vulnerable populations, he said.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Tifton Gazette.

“Rep. Scott has tested positive for COVID-19 and is following guidance from the House Attending Physician as well as his personal physician,” Scott’s Chief of Staff Jason Lawrence said in a statement to CNHI. “Austin and Vivien are appreciative of the prayers and well wishes.”

From the AJC:

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Evans announced last week that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would quarantine.

Days earlier, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia stopped campaigning in person for the Jan. 5 runoff after she received a positive coronavirus test. She returned to the trail after receiving two consecutive negative tests.

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point announced he had COVID-19 in October.

Nursing homes are experiencing staffing shortages due to the pandemic, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

During a roundtable Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp assured nursing home administrators the state is prepared to rollout an approved coronavirus vaccine as early as the second or third week of December. “We lost a lot of staff to begin with because they were afraid,” Mark Todd, president and CEO of Magnolia Manor, a faith-based senior living organization with facilities in rural Georgia, said. “We had a lot of long-term employees specifically that ‘we’re not going to deal with this anymore.’ So, we’ve been in a critical staffing situation, almost from day one.”

“Where that puts us moving forward is in a really difficult situation because if the vaccine comes in… if the medical community gets back to normal and we start seeing the same numbers of people that need the services that we have and all of a sudden our census takes off and grows,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to manage that. We don’t have the people in place — now or in the future — to do that.”

Other nursing home administrators echoed similar concerns of burnt out staff and falling revenue.

Tony Marshall, president and CEO of the Georgia Health Care Association which represents long-term care providers said that while revenue is dipping because of falling resident population, costs are increasing.

Marshall did note that under Kemp’s executive action and a waiver submitted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the state has been able to train over 3,500 temporary nurse aides to help offset staffing losses.

“Without those individuals being able to come in place, our workforce challenges would have been beyond difficult and would have almost been impossible,” he said.

Dalton Municipal Court is postponing some court dates due to rising COVID-19 numbers, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

 

30
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 27, 2020

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

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

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

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.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

So this is what it feels like to be at the center of the political universe.

President Donald Trump plans to visit Georgia on December 5, 2020 to campaign for United States Senators David Perdue (R-Glynn County) and Kelly Loeffer (R-Atlanta), according to CNBC.Continue Reading..

24
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 24, 2020

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

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 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 was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

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.

Paul_D.Coverdell

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp‘s Press Office released the following as he certified this month’s General Elections results.

[F]rom the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at the Georgia State Capitol, Governor Brian P. Kemp delivered the following remarks regarding the results of the 2020 election in Georgia:

“Good afternoon. COVID-19 has introduced numerous challenges to county and state elections officials as they work to keep Georgia elections secure, accessible, and fair. Given the record number of absentee ballots and narrow margin in the November 3rd election for president in Georgia, I joined many in backing a hand recount and urging a thorough investigation into any voting irregularities. The Secretary of State oversaw a complete audit which revealed significant errors made in several counties, including: Floyd, Fayette, Douglas, and Walton.”

“It is important for Georgians to know that the vast majority of local election workers did their job well under unprecedented circumstances, and I thank them for their service. However, it’s quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election. This is simply unacceptable. I have heard directly from countless Georgians. They expect better, and they deserve better.”

“It’s important to note that this audit only looked at ballots, not the signatures on the absentee applications or the signatures on the ballot envelopes. The Georgians I have heard from are extremely concerned about this, so I encourage Secretary Raffensperger to consider addressing these concerns. It seems simple enough to conduct a sample audit of signatures on the absentee ballot envelopes and compare those to the signatures on applications and on file at the Secretary of State’s Office.”

“This morning, the Secretary announced his support of strengthened photo ID requirements for absentee balloting. Voters casting their ballots in person must show photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting. I have heard from many members of the General Assembly, and I appreciate their input and share their concerns. I look forward to working with Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and members of both bodies to address the issues that have been raised over the last few weeks.”

“Earlier today, Secretary Raffensperger presented the certified results of the 2020 general election to my office. Following Judge Grimberg’s ruling yesterday, state law now requires the Governor’s Office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose. Georgia has runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats and a Public Service Commissioner scheduled to occur over the next several weeks. We demand complete explanations for all the discrepancies identified so that our citizens will have complete confidence in our elections. In the runoff election, we cannot have lost memory cards or stacks of uncounted ballots. We must have full transparency in all monitoring and counting. Every legal vote must be counted, and the security of the ballot box must be protected.”

“As Governor, I have the solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will continue to do. We must all work together to ensure citizens have confidence in future elections in our state. Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless the Great State of Georgia.”

Maybe the third time will be a charm? Georgia begins the recount requested by the Trump campaign of all ballots in the General Election for President, according to the Associated Press via the Gainesville Times.

The Trump campaign on Saturday sent a formal request for a recount to the secretary of state’s office.

The counties can begin the recount at 9 a.m. Tuesday and must finish by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system for the secretary of state’s office, said during a video news conference Monday. The counties are to give public notice of when during that period they will be counting so monitors from political parties and any interested members of the public can be there to observe, Sterling said.

Hall County officials said they will be rescanning all ballots, which include early voting, election day ballots, absentee ballots by mail and provisional ballots.

This will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and then 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will resume at 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, as well as Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The ballots will be adjudicated Wednesday, Dec. 2, in the lower level of the government center, which is at 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

This will be the third time the votes in the presidential race have been counted in Georgia. After the initial count following Election Day, Raffensperger selected the presidential race for an audit required by state law. Because of the tight margin, he said, the audit required every vote in that contest to be recounted by hand.

From the Rome News Tribune:

The Floyd County Board of Elections will be participating in a statewide recount beginning today on the second floor of the Floyd County Administration Building at 12 East 4th Ave.

The recount will take place from noon to 5 p.m. today and will resume on Wednesday at 9 a.m. and end by 2 p.m. The recount will continue Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the following week beginning Nov. 30 and will take place from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day with the possibility of longer hours depending on need in order to meet the deadline of Dec. 2 at midnight.

Floyd County Elections Board Chair Tom Rees said he expected the local recount to take no more than a day and a half.

The statewide process will not involve inspecting or matching signatures on absentee ballot envelopes, which Trump’s allies have called for to weed out any potential instances of mail-in voter fraud – though so far no evidence has been presented of such widespread fraud in Georgia.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said that the planning and organizing session will preclude the scanning of ballots scheduled to begin Wednesday. Scanner tests will be conducted Wednesday morning.

Scanning ballots for the recount should take about two days, Bridges said, but the plan is to break for the Thanksgiving weekend and resume the count on Monday.

The work will be done at the Elections Annex located at 10 Mall Terrace, Bldg. C.

From the AJC (1/2):

Cobb County began its recount of the presidential race Tuesday by testing the eight scanners that will be used to tally votes in order to make sure they are operating properly.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said election workers will use a test deck of 100 ballots, 25 of which are hand-written and 75 from the ballot-marking devices used at precincts.

“We have to take the memory sticks out of the scanners and take them back to the main office,” Eveler said. “If they don’t come up with the same result as what we expect, then they can’t be used in the scanning.”

Eveler said she expects Cobb’s recount to continue until the deadline on Dec. 2. She said it was “time-consuming” but part of the normal process.

“We do have a short timeframe for the runoff, so we do have lot of work ahead of us,” she said, referring to the two Jan. 5 senate runoffs.

Cobb has already received more than 30,000 absentee ballot applications for that race.

From the AJC (2/2):

DeKalb County planned to start its part of Georgia’s last statewide recount on Tuesday morning.

And while details were still murky, local elections officials said the state was only permitting a certain kind of scanner to be used for the effort — meaning they had only nine machines available to scan some 373,000 ballots. DeKalb officials originally estimated they would have 50 scanners available.

“We only have nine scanners available to use for this recount effort, so we are having to be creative with our staffing and resources,” DeKalb County elections director Erica Hamilton said in a news release. “When you add in a pair of runoffs and a major holiday taking place at the same time, we are stretched thin to accomplish the recount by the designated timeline.”

Hamilton said the county has “moved swiftly to ask the Secretary of State for additional scanners to help us accomplish the recount.”

As of Tuesday morning, DeKalb planned to utilize around 100 staffers to batch and scan ballots during the recount. Operations are being held at a former Sam’s Club store on Turner Hill Road in Stonecrest, which was used as an early voting location and hosted DeKalb’s recent manual audit of presidential ballots.

From Riley Bunch, writing for the Valdosta Daily Times:

The unprecedented statewide hand audit of the presidential race upheld Biden as victor, with only a slight difference after initially untallied votes were discovered and added to the original machine count.

Varying margins between the initial machine tally, the audit and the ongoing recount were always expected, according to election officials.

Statewide voting implementation managers told reporters Monday the Georgia Secretary of State’s office expects the margin to vary again after the recount and likely be even closer to the original machine count because the process will be the same.

Absentee ballots will again be run through the scanner and flagged if the machine cannot read them. A bipartisan panel will adjudicate those ballots — the same process as the initial count after election night — and determine the intent of the voter.

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly requested re-verification of signatures on voters’ absentee ballots with the state’s voter registration file — a process that election officials said is unfounded at this stage.

Sterling said the office has found no widespread evidence that signatures were not matched properly and have “no reason to believe” there have been issues since signature-match rejection rates were as expected and voters were also allowed to “cure” their ballots if they were notified of an issue.

“Both parties knew the rules on this on the front end,” he said. “So now coming up with a generalized grievance afterwards that there may have been an issue because the person that I wanted to win didn’t is not a reason to have an investigation.”

From an explainer by the Ledger-Enquirer:

It’s unlikely the Georgia Secretary of State’s office will further examine absentee voter signatures despite calls from top Republicans ahead of the state’s recount, a top election official told reporters Monday.

Under state law, the identification or signature of voters is checked twice during the absentee voting process, and an accepted ballot can’t be traced back to a signed envelope once the two are separated. The process protects ballot secrecy.

But county election officials keep the signed envelopes for two years. Currently, there’s no state law requiring or outlining the process for rechecking envelope signatures against the state database after those signatures were already confirmed, said Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager.

“If a court orders it or if we have specific investigatory reasons, you do it,” he said of auditing the signatures. “If we make a precedent of ‘I don’t like the outcome. Therefore, we should start investigating random parts of the process.’ …It’s a bad precedent.”

In the meantime, counties are processing absentee ballot request for runoff elections, according to the AJC.

The recount comes as election officials in Georgia are preparing for a hotly contested Jan. 5 runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats that will determine which party controls the chamber beginning in January.

As of Monday, 762,000 people had already requested absentee ballots for the runoff – triple the number who voted absentee in the 2018 general election.

What’s more, some counties are also holding special elections next Tuesday. Fulton County, for example, will hold a special runoff election to fill the last few weeks of the unexpired term of Rep. John Lewis, who died in July, plus a runoff for state Senate District 39.

The Georgia State Elections Board adopted new regulations governing the processing of absentee ballots for the runoff elections, according to the AJC.

Some 762,000 people have already requested absentee ballots for the runoff, which features two U.S. Senate races that will determine which party controls the chamber beginning in January.

That’s already three times the number of absentee ballots cast in the 2018 general election, Ryan Germany, general counsel for the secretary of state’s office, told the election board. Some 1.3 million people cast absentee ballots in this month’s general election.

To accommodate those ballots, the board extended an authorization for counties across the state to provide drop boxes for absentee ballots — an authorization made last spring and renewed in July amid the coronavirus pandemic. Counties must use video recording to monitor the boxes and adopt other security measures.

The board also modified another temporary rule approved earlier this year. That rule allowed — but did not require — counties to begin opening and scanning absentee ballots before Election Day. The revised rule requires counties to begin processing absentee ballots a week and a day before Election Day. The votes would not be tabulated until after the polls close on Election Day.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta) will return to campaigning after testing negative for COVID-19, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“Tonight, Senator Loeffler received her second consecutive negative PCR test result. She continues to feel great, and has no symptoms. She looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail,” Loeffler’s communications director Stephen Lawson announced on Monday.

Loeffler had self-isolated after getting mixed test results — two negative rapid tests, followed by a both a positive test and another polymerase chain reaction screening that was “inconclusive.”

With 50 Senate seats secured, Republicans need a win from Loeffler or Perdue over Jon Ossoff for control. If Warnock and Ossoff were to sweep the races resulting in a 50-50 Senate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would have the tie-breaking vote.

United States District Court Judge Richard Mark Gergel ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon its plan for removing the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel sided with the state of South Carolina and the city of Augusta in finding the proposed plan did not meet the requirements of a 2016 federal law that if the lock and dam were removed, the pool of water must be maintained at the level it was at the time.

“In February of 2019, we all witnessed the damage caused when there was a drawdown to simulate water levels if the proposed plan moved forward,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said in a statement. “The simulation caused the seawall to bend and demonstrated what would happen if one of Augusta’s greatest resources was demolished.”

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission is soliciting proposals for growing and processing the plant, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission voted Monday to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will lead to the granting of two “Class 1” licenses and four “Class 2″ licenses to grow marijuana indoors and manufacture the oil derived from the plants.

The RFP is based on input from the state attorney general’s office and the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (DOAS).

Starting the licensing process is a major step forward for a program that has been slow to get off the ground since the General Assembly passed legislation in April of last year legalizing the cultivation of marijuana in Georgia, conversion of the leaf into cannabis oil and the sale of the drug to eligible patients.

Commission Executive Director Andrew Turnage, appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp last May, said the DOAS is expected to post the RFP on the Georgia Procurement Registry by Wednesday.

Glynn County Commissioners may postpone the effective date of short-term rental regulations they’re considering, according to The Brunswick News.

County commissioners approved new regulations governing short-term rental units in October with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2021. That timeframe might have been a bit optimistic, according to county officials.

The county finance committee will consider today whether to recommend the county commission push the date back to April 1, 2021.

“It’s going to be a complex new ordinance to administer, and all along we’ve been talking about outside third-party outsourcing of the administrative issue,” said commissioner Peter Murphy, the most vocal proponent of the regulations. “It’s a little complicated to be done in-house.”

To make sure there’s enough time for bidding the project out and implementing it, Bragdon writes that IT personnel want to delay the effected date to April 1, 2021.

“One could say maybe we should have anticipated this, but myself being the commissioner most intimately involved with the ordinance, I didn’t know until the vote that we were actually going to pass the ordinance,” Murphy said.

Most Gwinnett County government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

23
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2020

Milledgeville-Old-Governor-Mansion-3

On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early Voting begins today in the Western Judicial Circuit, comprising Clarke and Oconee Counties, according to the Athens Banner Herald.Continue Reading..

20
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2020

On November 21, 1620 (November 11 under the calendar used then), the first governing document of the English colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, was signed by most of the male passengers of the Mayflower.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Georgia Trustees outlawed rum in the colony on November 21, 1733 after James Oglethorpe wrote them that it was responsible for sickness and death in Georgia. Two-hundred eighty-six years later, Richland Rum is being distilled with Georgia-grown sugar cane in Richland, Georgia.

North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the twelfth state to do so.

On November 21, 1860 Governor Joseph Brown called a Secession Convention following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

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.

November 21, 1922 was the first day of Rebecca Latimer Fulton’s service in the United States Senate from Georgia as the first woman to serve in that chamber.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

President John F. Kennedy became the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated in office on November 22, 1963.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

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

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

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia’s unemployment rate hit its lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.Continue Reading..

19
Nov

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 19, 2020

Lincolnatgettysburg

President Abraham Lincoln delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

Apollo 12 landed on the moon on November 19, 1969.

Reagan Gorbachev 11191985

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence visits Georgia tomorrow. From the GAGOP:

On Friday, November 20th, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Georgia for a bus tour. Beginning in Canton, Georgia, the Vice President will deliver remarks on the importance of fighting for conservative legislators at a Defend the Majority Rally with Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Following, the Vice President will travel to Gainesville, Georgia. There, the Vice President will highlight the historic accomplishments of the Trump Administration at a Defend the Majority Rally with Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Friday, November 20, 2020

12:30 pm
Cherokee County Rally with Vice President Mike Pence – TICKETS HERE
Cherokee Conference Center (The Bluffs)
1130 Bluffs Parkway
Canton, GA 30114

3:15 pm
Hall County Rally with Vice President Mike Pence – TICKETS HERE
Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center
1855 Calvary Church Road
Gainesville, GA 30507

From AccessWDUN:

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is alerting motorists that they may encounter traffic delays on Friday, Nov. 20 as Vice President Mike Pence arrives in the county for a campaign event for Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

The sheriff’s office said motorists should expect road closures between 2:30 and 5 p.m. on Calvary Church Road between Barber Road and Chicopee Woods Elementary School. Drivers who typically use Calvary Church Road at that time of day will need to plan alternate routes.

Early voting in the December 1, 2020 Runoff Election for District Attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit (Clarke and Oconee Counties) will open November 23d, according to The Oconee Enterprise.

The race is between Athens attorney Deborah Gonzalez, a Democrat, and Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney James Chafin, who is running without a party label.

All of Oconee’s polling places will be open on the day of the election. To locate one’s assigned precinct, visit mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do. To request an absentee ballot for the special runoff, voters will need to submit a paper absentee ballot application from ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov/. Be sure to print, sign and scan back to absentee@oconee.ga.usor fax to (706) 310-3486 or mail to P.O. Box 958 Watkinsville, GA 30677.

Early voting for the Dec. 1 runoff is from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Oconee County Civic Center.

The next election will be Jan. 5 to decide the fate of two U.S. Senate seats and the Georgia Public Service Commissioner. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced last week that the statewide race was moved from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5. However, the state is unable to move the local DA election because it’s a runoff of a special election.

Candidates for the Georgia Public Service Commissioner are Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonaldand Democrat Daniel Blackman.

Note Clarke County will have different locations for early voting than Oconee County, and may have different dates and times.

Gwinnett County runoff voters will have 23 absentee ballot drop boxes in which to deposit their ballots, according to the Patch.

An additional 285 previously uncounted ballots were found in Walton County, according to the Walton Tribune.

Walton was one of three counties where it was discovered that a processing error revealed some votes weren’t counted on election night. Locally, it was 284 ballots found at the Between precinct.

Lori Wood, chairwoman of the Walton County Board of Elections, said a memory card from one of two scanners at the polling place didn’t get uploaded, causing those votes not to be added to the tabulation.

Those votes netted 176 votes to President Donald Trump’s edge in Walton County, a Republican stronghold the Republican carried easily. Final numbers show Trump at 37,842 votes locally, or 74.06% of the 51,095 votes cast for president.

“The American people deserve to have honesty, transparency and full confidence in their elections, which is why President Trump and Georgia Republicans will not rest until every legal vote is counted,” Savannah Viar, the Georgia press secretary for Trump Victory, said in a statement.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Additional ballots were discovered in Douglas, Fayette, Floyd and Walton counties. The Secretary of State’s office has noted the uncovered votes were a result of “human error” on the part of county elections workers using the new voting system.

Aside from the four counties with issues, 112 counties were within single-digit deviations of their original machine counts and 58 counties found no difference at all, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

As of Wednesday morning, 4,968,000 of Georgia’s nearly 5 million ballots cast had been hand counted so far — a 12,781 vote margin now separating the two presidential candidates.

Election officials said Tuesday the state’s manual recount will not replace original machine results as the official tally of the race in Georgia. Douglas, Fayette, Floyd and Walton counties counties will rectify their results after the recount unearthed missing ballots which will be included in the final count.

Legal counsel for the Secretary of State’s office confirmed the full hand recount cannot replace the original machine count, Sterling said, while the audit is used to confirm the winner and not necessarily solidify the exact vote count.

The Trump campaign has been vocal that it will likely request another recount and have used the unearthed votes to back up unfounded claims of voter fraud.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County’s hand audit of the 2020 Presidential Election finished around noon on Wednesday.

Board of Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said the results were “very close” to the original certified count. Some discrepancies in the count were expected, but not enough to change the outcome of the election.

In Georgia, a recount only happens when there is a close margin in an election — half a percentage point or less. Audits after an election are routine and often used by states to ensure that equipment and procedures counting the vote all worked properly.

In Georgia, a candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5%.

A recount, if one is requested, would be conducted using the same scanners that read and tallied the unofficial results already released.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Douglas is one of four counties where election errors forced local officials to fix their final tally. The audit in Walton County found that a memory card of nearly 284 votes had not been uploaded. Floyd County workers had to rescan early and provisional ballots after 2,600 uncounted votes were found. Fayette County election officials found a memory card of nearly 2,800 votes that they had to upload to its final tally.

The errors in these counties cut Biden’s lead by more than 1,000 votes statewide. Barring issues like these, the scanned totals from counties will not change. The purpose of Georgia’s audit under current law is to confirm the outcome of the election, not the exact margins.

The Trump campaign could request a formal recount if Biden’s margin of victory is within 0.5% after the state certifies its election results. Counties will pay for both the cost of the audit and a recount if Trump requests it, Sterling said.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

By late Tuesday afternoon, the boards of election in [Richmond and Columbia] counties had submitted their official ballot retabulations to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, and compared the vote totals to the totals first submitted shortly after the election.

In Richmond County, the original vote total of 87,530 dropped during the audit to 87,525, owing to five unaccounted-for ballots, said Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey.

“Our strongest suspicion” of how it happened, she said, was the audit team’s failure to report every write-in vote. But with 668 batches of ballots still in her office’s custody, “we’re sure they’re still in there somewhere,” Bailey said.

Candidates’ totals also changed slightly. In Richmond County, which went for Biden, the president-elect lost 61 votes, giving him an audit total of 59,063. Trump picked up 65 more votes for an audit total of 26,846.

Columbia County candidate totals also changed during the audit. Trump, who won the county, picked up 31 votes for an audit total of 50,044. Biden lost 40 votes for a new total of 29,196.

The total number of ballots, however, stayed the same. Every one of Columbia County’s 80,973 ballots was accounted for, Gay said.

One ballot that was briefly unaccounted for during the audit was found stuck to the back of another ballot, said Larry Wiggins, the chairman of the Columbia County Board of Elections.

Later, one box came up a ballot short and another box showed one ballot extra in its previously reported contents, but the totals reconciled after the last batch of ballots was counted early Monday afternoon.

Savannah’s Board of Aldermen and city staff will discuss the FY 2021 budget, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In a Nov.16 letter presenting the proposed 2021 budget and capital improvement plan, Acting City Manager Michael Brown said the city is facing two crises: A public health emergency and the resulting economic recession affecting residents, visitors and businesses.

“We are faced with dramatic increases in unemployment, food insecurity, housing insecurity, and economic distress,” Brown wrote. “These crises directly and negatively affect city services, revenues and expenditures.”

Brown wrote that the budget has been balanced with a combination of actions including expenditure reductions, use of fund balance reserves, minimal fee changes and using $10.5 million from a capital fund holding account.

“As we saw in 2020, our revenue options are limited, often not covering costs to provide basic municipal services and cannot be the total solution to dealing with this gap,” Brown wrote.

Republican U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-Glynn County) and Kelly Loeffler hold a $28 million dollar fundraising advantage over their Democratic opponents, according to CNN.

Political groups have already spent or reserved more than $126 million to advertise for the 63-day campaign, with Republicans exceeding Democrats $77.2 million to $49.3 million, according to Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Loeffler leads the pack, spending or reserving nearly $42 million in ads for her runoff race, far more than the $19 million she spent up until the general election November 3. Warnock has booked $24.4 million for ads in the runoff race, Perdue has set aside $19.3 million and Ossoff has marked $13.7 million.

“The outpouring of support for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue has been tremendous, but we have the fight of our lives on our hands,” said Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson. “We need every single dollar, every single supporter, every single Republican vote because Chuck Schumer, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are stopping at nothing to radically transform our country into a socialist state.”

Republicans led the advertising battle in the general election with the aid of the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC aligned to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Loeffler, the co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream who is married to New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, also spent $23 million of her own money in the general election, but she does not plan on spending any more in the runoff race, according to Lawson.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta) repeated her demand that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resign, according to Fox News.

“We have to make sure that every legal vote is counted, and I also believe that we also have to hold officials accountable. Look, I came out of the private sector. People held me accountable as an executive,” Loeffler told “America’s Newsroom.”

When host Sandra Smith asked Loeffler whether she is calling for the resignation of the Georgia secretary of state, Loeffler replied, “Yes, I am.”

More than 3,000 uncounted ballots turned up in Georgia as the state is conducting an audit of the 2020 presidential election. As the hand-tallying continues, officials in Fayette County unearthed 2,755 ballots that had not been included in the original count.

Chatham County Democrats rallied to get out the vote for runoff elections, according to WSAV.

Chatham County Commission Chairman-elect Chester Ellis, joined by other elected Democrats, voiced their support for Jon Ossoff and Savannah native Rev. Raphael Warnock in the Senate runoffs at a rally outside of the Savannah Civic Center on Wednesday.

“Health care is on the ballot and we must make sure that [for] everyone in Chatham County, their health is taken care of,” said Ellis. “The best candidates for that are Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.”

Ellis also said social security and infrastructure are other important issues he hopes can be addressed if Ossoff and Warnock are elected into office.

“National attention will come back to Chatham County in January because we will play an utmost important part in this election of the senators who will work with the president to get the agenda done for the people,” Ellis said.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners voted to create a historic district encompassing western downtown Athens, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2020

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863.

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

Nixon Vinson 1973

President Richard Nixon, Secretary of the Navy John Warner, Carl Vinson, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on November 18, 1973. John Warner would later be the namesake of USS John Warner, a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

The private railcar used by FDR for many trips during his presidency was loaned by Norfolk Southern to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth this weekend. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s private rail car during his days as governor of New York and through the first years of his presidency, known as the Marco Polo, now resides in Duluth.

This past Saturday Norfolk Southern honored its rich history by officially loaning the Marco Polo train car to the Southeastern Railway Museum — Georgia’s official transportation history museum. The exchange comes just days after the presidential election in the U.S., making the car’s history that much more significant.

Roosevelt rented the almost-new car from the Pullman Company in 1927 and had it modified to meet his special needs in coping with his disability. Only one of those modifications, a brass rail above the president’s bed, remains in place today. Roosevelt most likely used this rail to help himself out of bed.

The loan of the Marco Polo to the Southeastern Railway Museum comes on the eve of Norfolk Southern’s relocation of its headquarters to Atlanta, expected to be completed by the summer of 2021. Norfolk Southern’s purpose for the loan was to begin sharing the historical freight rail past with local communities, and claim a stake in the ground as neighbors in the Duluth community.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The results of the statewide audit/recount will not change the official election results, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..