Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2016

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

Tonight at 7 PM, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) will speak at the Atlanta History Center for “Preserving Our Republic: A Conversation with Dick Gephardt and Newt Gingrich,” a REAL Talks Atlanta event sponsored by Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Don Wesley Thompson as a Superior Court Judge for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, which covers Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker Counties.

Deal also visited the 2016 Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie.

“I love having a governor who wants to come two hours early so he can go buy something,” said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black. “It is really nice to have a governor that would buy something because he needs it and has a practical application for agriculture on his farm back at home.”

As Deal took the podium at the Expo, he congratulated Black on the “Georgia Grown” program, a marketing and economic development program with the goal of bringing together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agritourism and consumers in one powerful statewide community.

“The huge success of the Georgia Grown program, I think, will impact our state not only in the short-term, but in the lives of our children and families for many years to come,” Deal said.

“There is a $70 billion economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness to our state,” Deal said. “It is the No. 1 leading component that has helped make our state, which we are expecting for the fourth consecutive year — something that no other state has ever received the distinction for four consecutive years — to be the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business.”

Senator David Perdue praised Donald Trump’s suggestion that members of Congress be term-limited.

“When I ran for the United States Senate in 2014, I promised Georgians I’d fight for term limits,” Perdue said in a statement on Wednesday. “When I took office last year, I immediately co-sponsored a Constitutional amendment doing just that. Today, I’m proud of Donald Trump for coming out in support of term limits for members of Congress.”

Perdue, a first-term senator, said 60 out of 100 senators have been in elected office for at least 20 years, including a group of 36 who have been in office for at least 30 years.

“That must change if we are going to change the direction of our country,” he said. “Career politicians created the moment of crisis America faces today. They aren’t the ones who are going to solve it. Term limits will help break this vicious cycle of gridlock that is crippling Congress from getting things done.”

A federal judge rejected a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to force Georgia to extend voter registration in an additional five coastal counties affected by Hurricane Matthew.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge William T. Moore rejected an attempt by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia to extend registration in Bryan, Liberty, Camden, McIntosh and Glynn counties.

“What happened in this case is that a natural disaster coincided with Georgia’s constitutionally valid voter registration deadline,” Moore ruled in an 11-page order. “This natural event made it difficult, but not impossible, for certain residents of the five counties to properly register to vote prior to the Oct. 11 deadline.”

He said those counties were in a different situation from Chatham County, where last week he ordered the state to extend the deadline for six days until Tuesday.

He said the burdens faced by voters in those five counties were “slight compared to the state of Georgia’s interest in conducting a smooth statewide election.”

State attorneys argued that to extend the Oct. 11 deadline would have placed an undue burden on county election boards.

“The court is satisfied that extending the deadline for six days from the date of this order places severe burdens on both state and local election officials that outweigh those placed on individuals by failing to extend the registration deadline.”

The Marietta Daily Journal notes that Cobb County voting in the first two days of in-person early voting was at more than twice the level of 2012.

Through two days of a three-week early voting period, more than 7,000 Cobb voters have cast their ballots — it took five days to reach the same mark in 2012.

On Monday, 3,685 people voted in person at the two polling places open for early voting in Cobb, according to the Cobb Board of Elections. Tuesday saw another 3,392 people cast a ballot, putting the total number of votes cast early in person at 7,077.

For comparison, 2,797 people voted through two days of early voting ahead of the 2012 general election, and after five days of early voting, the total number of votes totaled just 7,007.
Cobb’s early turnout numbers surpass the totals seen in many nearby counties over the first two days of early voting, including Gwinnett (2,985), Paulding (3,149) and Cherokee (2,564).

However, Fulton County, which has about 150,000 more registered voters than Cobb and had 24 polling places open compared to Cobb’s two, saw a total of 28,147 people cast ballots on Monday and Tuesday, nearly four times Cobb’s tally.

Statewide, more than 85,000 people voted early in person on Monday alone, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

The Georgia NAACP will be deploying poll watchers across the state.

“They will be looking for … people who may be displaying the Confederate battle emblem, for example. Or people who will be displaying firearms within 150 feet of a polling place,” [NAACP GA President Francys] Johnson said.

The Georgia NAACP is working with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU and the Legal Defense Fund.

Early voting continues apace in Columbus and Harris County, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“I think it’s busy everywhere in Georgia,” said Sherrail Jarret, the elections supervisor in Harris County, where 1,173 residents had voted as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. Of that total, 426 voted Monday and 393 on Tuesday, she said.

For Harris County, that’s “a very big number,” she said.

In Columbus, early voters have been casting an average of around 140 ballots per hour this week, with 1,748 voting Monday, 1,520 on Tuesday and 1,591 on Wednesday, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations.

Georgia’s deadline to register to vote was Oct. 11, and some residents rushed to make it on time. Muscogee County on Oct. 1 had 96,045 registered and “active” voters, meaning they voted this year, changed their registration or had some other contact with the election process. That was an increase from 85,717 during the March 1 presidential primary and 89,952 during the May 24 state party primaries and local elections.

Coastal Georgia insurance claims are piling up in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Individual assistance from FEMA became available on Tuesday for area residents, and by the end of the first day there had been more than 9,000 registrations from the eligible areas, which are Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, McIntosh and Wayne counties, according to a FEMA representative.

On Wednesday, a team of 14 FEMA Disaster Assistance Specialists opened up an assistance tent at Catastrophe Claims Village in the Home Depot parking lot on the southside to assist residents.

FEMA can’t duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after insurance claims are settled.

“Whether you do or don’t have insurance FEMA can still help you,” he said. “We just want you to go through your insurance first so we don’t duplicate benefits.”

Typically people have 60 to 90 days to register after FEMA declares a disaster. The declaration for Georgia went into effect Oct. 8, but no closing date has been set yet, according to Daniels.

Chatham County Commissioners will vote on an ordinance designed to prevent flood damage.

Nearly three months after it began the process, the Chatham County Commission is set to finalize a redraft of the ordinance that regulates flood damage prevention in unincorporated Chatham.

The commission is slated to hold a second reading Friday to repeal its existing flood damage prevention ordinance and “adopt a new version to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).” The second reading had initially been scheduled for the commission’s Oct. 7 meeting, but that meeting was canceled because of Hurricane Matthew.

Houston County District 5 Commissioner Tom McMichael faces Democrat Gordon Hicks to retain the seat McMichael has held for twenty years.

Incumbent Republican Hall County Commissioner Jeff Stowe and Democrat Angela Thomas Middleton met in a forum to discuss issues in their campaign.

Georgia Power will close 100 offices across Georgia in an efficiency measure as in-person payments become fewer. The 27 busiest local offices will remain open.

“These changes will help us better align our business with the changing needs of our customers and ensure we continue to provide world-class service at the lowest possible rates,” a company spokesman wrote in an e-mail highlighting the changes.

Also in keeping with the way customers typically pay bills, Georgia Power will expand its payment locations from more than 2,700 to more than 5,000. Many of the new locations will be inside grocery and retail stores, including Kroger and Wal-Mart.

The Georgia Public Service Commission voted to extend the time allowed for Georgia Power and the PSC staff to reach a settlement on issues regarding costs at the new reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The Georgia Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to require the PSC staff to make a recommendation no later than Oct. 28 on whether to let the Atlanta-based utility charge customers more than $1 billion for overruns brought on by delays in building two additional reactors at the nuclear plant south of Augusta, Ga. The staff was to have delivered a report by Wednesday, but Georgia Power asked for more time.

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