Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2022

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig died on June 2, 1941 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the first day of on-person advance voting for the May 24 primary elections. From the Statesboro Herald:

In-person early voting for Georgia’s May 24 party primaries and nonpartisan general election begins Monday, May 2, and extends for 15 weekdays, through May 20, plus two Saturdays here, May 7 and May 14.

Contested local offices up for election include the Bulloch County State Court judgeship and, in some districts, Board of Commissioners and Board of Education seats. Meanwhile, the Democratic and Republican primary ballots carry candidates for a U.S. Senate seat and state offices from governor to public service commissioner, plus lists of eight or nine opinion questions directed only toward party platforms.

The Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration area in the County Annex, 113 N. Main St., will be open for early voting 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, May 2 through May 20. It will be the only early voting location the first two weeks and the only Saturday voting location. Saturday voting will be available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 7 and May 14.

A second location, the Honey Bowen Building, 1 Max Lockwood Drive, will open for early voting the third and final week only, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, May 16-20.

Because this election features party primaries, voters are asked to choose either a Democratic or a Republican ballot and cannot vote in both primaries. But the nonpartisan general election ballot is included with both parties’ ballots, and some of this year’s truly local contests in Bulloch County are nonpartisan, as judges and school boards are required to be.

Note that you can also request a nonpartisan ballot, to vote on those offices only.

From the Savannah Morning News:

In Chatham County, early in-person voting starts at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 2 and ends on Friday, May 20. This year, Chatham will have two days of Saturday voting and one day of Sunday voting.

There are five early voting locations in Chatham, down from the six sites used in 2020. Pooler’s early voting location will not be in operation this year as it was for the Nov. 2020 election.

Early voting does not require voters to go to their typical voting precinct. Instead, voters can go to any of five locations around the county and cast their ballot. The ballot will feature the same candidates and races they’d receive in their own precinct on election day.

Absentee ballots are available by request through May 13. Mailout of absentee ballots began on April 25.

Absentee ballots can be returned up until 7 p.m. on election day, May 24.

SB 202, the voting reform law passed in 2021, officially codified absentee ballot drop boxes. The measure also limits the number of boxes to one per 100,000 registered voters or one per early voting site, whichever number is smaller.

Chatham has three boxes, all located inside early voting site,. Access is only available during early voting hours.

From WSAV:

[In Chatham County, o]nly the Islands Library, Mosquito Control and the main elections office will house drop boxes for absentee ballots. Bespcause of Georgia’s new voting law, those boxes must now be inside, not outside like before, and are only available during voting hours.

From The Brunswick News:

Three locations where early voting is held are at the board of elections office, 1815 Gloucester St. in Brunswick; the Ballard Community Building, 30 Nimitz Drive in Brunswick; and Fire Station No. 2, 1929 Demere Road, St. Simons Island.

Early voting will be available on two Saturdays in Chatham County, on May 7 and 14, though it’s limited to the main election office on Eisenhower and the Civic Center. Sunday, May 15, voters can also cast their ballot early at the main election office.

Voting in another county? Click or tap here to search for the board of registrars office in your municipality.

From 13WMAZ:

For people in Macon-Bibb County, early voting will look a lot like it did last year, but now instead of three places to vote early, there are two. The polling place at Theron Ussery Recreation Center will not be open for early voting this year.

“It’s under renovation right now and they couldn’t guarantee it would be ready for early voting,” said interim supervisor, Thomas Gillon.

If you’re too busy to vote early during the week in Bibb County, you can still vote Saturday, May 7 and 14, and also on Sunday, May 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so you still have plenty of chances to get out there and cast your ballot.

From WRDW:

There used to be an absentee dropbox housed outside the Richmond County Municipal Building, but under the new law, you’ll only be able to find that box inside from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

This year, officials say they received more than 600 requests for absentee ballots, but it’s not as popular as last year.

The last day to apply for an absentee ballot, and the last day they’ll be sent out is May 13. And once you get the application, Richmond County no longer has five drop boxes. They have one. It’ll be inside the Beazley Community Room.

And they anticipate a little more than 50 percent voter turnout for this election. Advanced voting begins May 2, and the big day is May 24.

Voters can also apply for a ballot by visiting the online absentee portal at Voters who cast an absentee ballot by mail do not have to provide a reason.

From AccessWDUN:

This year’s election cycle has the potential to upend the political landscape in Georgia. The Republican primary on May 24 will test the strength of an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who supports candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and insurance commissioner. Democrats, meanwhile, are looking to November as a way to build on gains made in 2020.

Early voting runs through May 20.

Georgia’ new election law – alternatively known as the Election Integrity Act or SB 202 – changed the time in which voters can request absentee ballots. Those ballots must be requested by Friday, May 13. The completed ballot deadline didn’t change. It must arrive at the local election office by mail or through use of drop box by 7 p.m. on election day.

Hall County will also hold two days of Saturday voting and two days of Sunday voting. Saturday voting will be held on May 7 and May 14 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at all early voting locations.

Sunday voting will be held on May 8 and May 15 from 1-5 p.m. only at the Brenau Downtown Center and Mulberry Creek Community Center locations.

A run-off, if needed, is simply a continuation of the election. Voters must vote for the same party in the run-off as they did in the primary unless you voted a non-partisan ballot. In this case, you must indicate a party preference for your run-off ballot.

If voters don’t vote in the May 24 primary, they can still vote in a runoff or in the general election.

From the Rome News Tribune:

More than half of Floyd County voters took advantage of the early voting period during the last statewide election.

Voters will have to ask for one of the three types of ballot: Republican, Democratic or Nonpartisan. The choice does [not] affect who they can vote for in November.

The nonpartisan ballot will have only the judicial races, along with the countywide ELOST referendum for the city and county school systems. Those will also all be on the partisan ballots.

Locally, voters have partisan contests to decide for Floyd County Commission, state Senate and House seats and the 14th Congressional District. Republicans are battling for the nomination in each of those races. Democrats are sitting out all but the congressional race.

In the 2020 presidential election, just 24.8% of Floyd County voters cast ballots on Election Day while 54.2% voted early in person. The rest voted by mail or provisional ballot.

On Friday, Governor Brian Kemp signed four bills designed to enhance Georgia’s workforce and employment opportunities, according to a press release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp signed four bills designed to strengthen and enhance Georgia’s robust workforce. The legislation includes HB 1435, which provides needs-based financial aid to eligible higher education students who experience a “gap” in their tuition funding; SB 397, which recognizes all other state approved high school equivalency programs in Georgia and extends a voucher to cover all associated test fees; HB 1331, which streamlines employment services funded by Title III of the Federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act to remove duplication and better assist unemployed Georgians in finding a job or starting a new career; and SB 379, which enables the Technical College System of Georgia to create and expand a registered employee apprenticeship program.

“As Georgia continues to lead in the Great Recovery, we should not rest on our laurels,” said Governor Kemp. “With an eye toward the future, I am proud to sign these bills into law so that we can continue to grow and strengthen our already great workforce. Job creators tell us all the time they come to the Peach State because they know we have the skilled workers who can get the job done. All four of these bills will help us grow that reputation even more.”

“As I sign HB 1435, I especially want to thank Chairman Chuck Martin of the Higher Education Committee for all his hard work, both before and during the legislative session, to bring this bill to life. This marks the first needs-based education grant of its kind in Georgia, and Chairman Martin deserves a great deal of credit for making a higher education degree just that much more affordable and attainable here in our state. Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones has also been instrumental in efforts to strengthen our higher education system and a valued partner throughout the legislative session.”

“I also want to thank Senators Russ Goodman and Lindsey Tippins, Representative Steven Meeks, and the numerous sponsors who worked on SB 397. By implementing this commonsense policy, we’re further removing barriers to education and better opportunities outside of the classroom for hardworking Georgians.”

“Representative Steven Meeks, Senator Russ Goodman, and the other sponsors of HB 1331 also deserve our appreciation for streamlining state government and helping Georgians in search of a job by getting HB 1331 across the finish line. I will always be for making government more efficient, and for making it easier for all Georgians to find opportunity.”

“Last, but not least, I want to thank Senator Brian Strickland, his many fellow sponsors of SB 379 in the Senate, and Chairman Chuck Martin for their efforts. We learn best by doing, and for many professions, the best classroom is the work place. By creating apprenticeship opportunities, more Georgians will be able to enter the workforce prepared for success.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

College students needing a financial boost to complete their degrees will get help from the state under legislation Gov. Brian Kemp has signed into law.

Under House Bill 1435, students who have earned at least 80% of the credits required for the degree they are seeking will receive a grant of up to $2,500 to help pay their tuition.

The bill passed overwhelmingly on the last day of this year’s legislative session, with only one “no” vote in the state Senate and four in the Georgia House of Representatives.

To qualify for a grant, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application. The Georgia Student Finance Commission will administer the program, subject to state appropriations.

The bill includes a sunset date of June 30, 2025, to let lawmakers determine whether the program is fulfilling its intended purpose of providing “gap” funding to help financially needy students graduate from college.

I remember hearing a radio news story about “completion grants” at Georgia State University and thinking it was one of the best ideas I’d heard. From Inside Higher Ed:

When Georgia State University administrators realized they were barring about 1,000 students from enrollment every semester because they owed the university money, the university leaders knew they needed to come up with a plan that addressed financial obstacles to completion.

In 2011 they launched the Panther Retention Grant program, which covers students’ unpaid balances. The program is targeted at students in good academic standing, with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, who are at risk of being dropped from enrollment rolls because of outstanding debts of $2,500 or less. Eligible students, who have unmet financial needs after exhausting all other forms of aid, automatically receive the grant without having to apply.

“That was the impetus for the program, to try to address the attrition of really good students that were leaving us for really bad reasons—not because they didn’t want to be there and not because they couldn’t be there academically but because they didn’t have the money,” said Timothy Renick, executive director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State.

Grants originally went to first-year students when the program first started, but now the majority go to seniors. Administrators made this change in 2014, hoping to maximize the impact of the program by getting more students to the finish line so they can complete their studies and graduate in less time. In its first year, the program awarded 214 grants; more than 10,000 grants have since been awarded.

“A program that helps students clear that last final obstacle and helps them get their degrees is important—and it’s the right thing to do,” said Daniel Rossman, a senior researcher at Ithaka S+R and a co-author of the report.

“I think the big takeaway is that retention or completion grants offer a promising solution to the problem of affordability in higher education,” Rossman said. “The right design and strategic implementation in these types of programs can play an important role in helping students remain enrolled through graduation, especially in a post-pandemic world with huge financial obstacles. I think it’s something that can be part of an institution’s tool kit to help students succeed.”

Kudos to Rep. Chuck Martin, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, and all who worked on this legislation.

Governor Kemp faced four would-be rivals in a televised debate, according to the AJC.

The four Republicans running to replace Brian Kemp used the last debate of the primary season on Sunday night to launch a volley of attacks at the governor on everything from election integrity and crime to education and the pandemic.

Kemp, who who holds a commanding lead in public opinion polls and fundraising as he seeks a second term, spent much of the hour deflecting criticism from all sides. The script seemed familiar at first, centering on the 2020 election and Kemp’s failure to do more to overturn the results in Georgia in favor of Republican Donald Trump.

Perdue and several other candidates continued on Sunday to press the falsehood that the election was stolen. Kemp pointed to new legislation that would allow the GBI to initiate election investigations and other measures he said his administration has taken to ensure election integrity.

Kemp pivoted back to his first-term accomplishments whenever he could, saying he has delivered on his campaign promises. He touted record growth in economic development, state law enforcement efforts to combat rising crime rates and initiatives to strengthen rural Georgia.

[Kandiss] Taylor, an educator, blamed Kemp for not opening schools back up sooner after COVID-19. She also launched one of the more bizarre exchanges of the night, demanding that the governor explain why he hadn’t renounced the Chinese Communist Party.

“So what was your question again?” asked Kemp, looking bemused.

“We’re in the the Bible belt,” Taylor said. “We do love Jesus, guns and babies and we’re going to represent Jesus Christ, not communism.”

Early voting starts Monday for the May 24 primary.

From the Associated Press via Yahoo:

Polls show Perdue significantly behind Kemp, raising the chance the incumbent could clear 50% in May and avoid a possible June 21 runoff. While Perdue landed some licks on Kemp, especially in the April 24 debate, it’s unclear if the clashes have changed voters’ minds.

The debates come as voting begins in the May 24 primary. Some counties are already mailing absentee ballots, and early in-person voting begins Monday.

Kemp emphasizes his achievements, including raising teacher and state employee pay, cutting taxes and quickly lifting restrictions after Georgia’s brief COVID-19 lockdown.

“I’ve done all that I said I would do when I was campaigning in 2018,” Kemp said.

Also subject to a pile-on: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Republicans vying to represent Georgia’s 14th Congressional District trained their fire on incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene during a debate Sunday, several of them asking the controversial congresswoman: “What have you accomplished?”

“We’re all here because we have concerns about the seat,” said Seth Synstelien, a veteran and a member of the Marine Corps Reserve Association’s board of directors. “No bill you’ve authored has passed, and you have no committee power to advocate for this district.”

At Sunday’s debate, hosted by Georgia Public Broadcasting, Greene boasted of forcing roll-call votes in the House, rather than the voice votes that hide how individual House members voted on particular bills. Greene also claimed to have secured $6 million in federal money for the district.

Georgia’s Rural Hospital Tax Credit program received a clean audit, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The annual evaluation of the tax credit by the Georgia Department of Audits & Accounts concluded that all participating hospitals, taxpayers and third parties are complying with the law that created the program to help struggling rural hospitals make ends meet.

The program brought in $59.4 million in contributions to eligible rural hospitals last year, the audit found, nearly hitting the annual cap of $60 million. Supporters in the General Assembly introduced legislation this year to raise the cap to $100 million but were forced to settle for $75 million.

Contributions have approached the $60 million cap during most years since the program was launched in 2016. However, donations fell to $46.5 million in 2019 after a change in federal law rendered individual taxpayers ineligible to receive an income tax deduction for charitable donations if they received a state tax credit for the same contribution.

The new audit also concluded that administrative fees the 56 rural hospitals that participate in the tax credit paid the Georgia HEART Hospital Program remained within the 3% limit set by state law. Georgia HEART contracts with the hospitals to market the program and process taxpayer contributions.

Democrat Stacey Abrams campaigned in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

A large crowd listened to Abrams’ speech at Veterans Memorial Park, where she discussed a variety of issues, including the community response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Thousands of residents living in Brunswick, Glynn County and Coastal Georgia need help with health care, Abrams said. She said the state has balked about expanding Medicaid coverage for a decade, costing taxpayers $2.7 billion in uncompensated care — medical expenses people cannot pay for because they don’t have health insurance.

“When they can’t pay the bill, the bill comes to us,” she said.

She said expanding Medicaid will create 64,000 new jobs in the state.

Abrams expressed concerns about new education laws she says omit important moments in American history.

“The governor says it’s OK to lie to children about history,” she said. “Lies of omission are lies nonetheless. We want to grow resilient children.”

Abrams also campaigned in Savannah, according to WTOC.

“Coastal Georgia is not the same as Atlanta. I know that Decatur is not the same as Buckhead. But I believe we need a governor who sees all of us and serves all of us and believes in all of us and that is why I’m running,” Stacey Abrams, Democratic Candidate for Georgia Governor said.

It’s part of her “One Georgia” tour across the state. She was joined by Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.

Main topics covered during her speech included her plans to education, the economy, and lowering the cost of health care.

“I’m running because I want to expand Medicaid and bring 3.5 billion dollars to the state of Georgia,” Abrams said.

Abrams also speaking out on recent state gun legislation allowing gun owners to carry a firearm without a permit amid a slew of recent shootings in the Coastal Empire.

“It is making people more paranoid about their safety. We should not make concealed carry permits a thing of the past and as the governor of Georgia, I will work with every single person I can to repeal these senseless gun laws we’ve put on the books in the last decade,” Abrams said.

The Glynn County Board of Elections sent new voter cards to some voters, according to The Brunswick News.

Unless the recipient has a change of address, no action is required. A change of address form is on the back of the card.

“Not all registered voters are receiving one,” said Chris Channell, county director of elections and registration. “They will only receive one if something has changed in their district or precinct.

“They tell a voter that they are registered, their precinct, their district and polling location. All of this information can also be found by the voter by logging into My Voter Page.”

“A voter can do whatever they want with the card,” Channell said. “It is not required to vote.”

The Lowndes County Board of Elections is seeking volunteer poll workers, according to WALB.

Attention Goth kids: the Dougherty County Coroner’s office is offering internships, according to WALB.

Some forensics majors were picked for the program with the Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler.

They say this internship provided them with real-life experience that’s essential before getting into the job.

”We do as much as what the coroner will allow us as far as going to the crime scene, like doing paperwork,” [Albany State University Student forensics student Sydney] Howard said. “Going to the morgue, investigating the manner of death or the cause of death and seeing/determining if it needs to be a GBI case, or is it okay to go ahead and go to the funeral.”

Coroner Fowler says he’s proud of the program and wishes it was something he could have done in school.

He says it’s the only program like this in the state. He hopes it will keep students here. High schoolers can also apply.

The Bulloch County NAACP will host candidate forums for county commission and board of education, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Dalton Area League of Women Voters will host candidate forums for county commission and board of education, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Augusta-area voters have several opportunities to see candidates for Mayor and other local offices, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

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