Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for October 30, 2013

30
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for October 30, 2013

Fulton voting problem for wrongly-accused

Fulton County’s newest election office problems appears to be wrongly informing voters they are ineligible to vote based on incorrect flagging of alleged felons who were incorrectly identified. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article by David Wickert,

Fulton County has erroneously notified scores of residents that they might not be eligible to vote because they were convicted felons.

Fulton officials blamed the problem on faulty information obtained from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. The state says it’s the county’s responsibility to verify the list of potential felons.

Fulton Registrations Manager Ralph Jones said the 166 affected people will be allowed to vote, although the county may not notify them until Friday — just a few days before Tuesday’s municipal elections.

The Secretary of State’s Office regularly provides counties with lists of possible felons who might not be eligible to vote. The names are obtained by matching the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other data against the state’s voter registration database.

Fulton usually notifies voters of the finding without double-checking the state’s work and seldom gets more than one or two complaints, Jones said. This month, the county received 42 phone calls and reviewed the felon data after mailing the notices.

DeKalb County Elections Director Maxine Daniels said her office also has had problems with the Secretary of State Office’s felon data. She attributed the problems to the state’s new election software, ElectioNet.

It’s the second time this month that the state has been blamed for an elections glitch.

Fulton County was late mailing about 24,000 precinct cards to Atlanta and East Point voters, citing faulty data obtained by the state agency. Cobb County cited similar problems when it was late with 15,000 to 20,000 notices. DeKalb and Gwinnett counties reported finding data problems before notices were printed.

No trick-or-treat for Middle Ga sex offenders

This is a great idea that I can support: in Bibb, Peach, and Crawford Counties, registered sex offenders whose victims included children have been ordered to report to county probation offices from 5-10 PM on Halloween.

“They understand and they’re told up front what’s expected of them,” Bergman said of the sex offenders. “They’re supervised with more scrutiny than any other population on parole.”

While the restrictions help protect children, Bergman said they also benefit sex offenders because if they’re at home, there can’t be any allegations that they’re out doing something they shouldn’t.

Bergman and Lee said the restrictions have been in place for years and so far they haven’t had anyone violate them.

Although 340 of the registered sex offenders in Bibb, Crawford, Houston and Peach counties will be monitored Halloween night, another 227 who aren’t incarcerated or under parole or probation officers’ supervision don’t have any special restrictions.

Lee said parents should check the GBI’s online Sex Offender Registry before taking children into unfamiliar neighborhoods.

The registry, located at gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry, is searchable by name, street, city, county and ZIP code.

McKoon Amendment boosted by Gov. Deal

Since we’ve been talking about Senator Josh McKoon’s proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow voters to decide whether to grant the Attorney General the ability to convene a statewide grand jury to investigate charges of political corruption wherever they occur, the measure was getting little traction until recently.

Yesterday, Greg Bluestein wrote that Governor Nathan Deal has indicated a level of support for at least having a public discussion on the merits of the McKoon Amendment.

Deal said the notion that a statewide grand jury is needed to focus on far-flung areas of the state where it would be difficult for a district attorney to secure an indictment against an elected official “has merit and needs to be discussed.” “I’m not ready to endorse it,” he said. “But I think it’s something the General Assembly should talk about.”

Such grand juries would be called by the Georgia attorney general, an enhancement of powers currently allotted the office.

McKoon, R-Columbus, wants to hold hearings on his proposed constitutional amendment early next year. He hopes to get the required two-thirds passage by the House and Senate during the legislative session so that it can be placed on the November ballot for voter approval.

Deal, though, wants any proposal to include a hard-and-fast dividing line between McKoon’s notion and administrative inquests into campaign issues. As he’s said before, he wants the ethics commission to aggressively use newly restored powers to clarify muddled campaign finance rules.

And any new legislation should restrict prosecutors from filing criminal charges for what he deems “administrative” errors, such as a city council member who is tardy in filing his or her campaign finance report.

“It’s an administrative side dealing with non-public revenue, money that is raised by candidates,” the governor said. “And I don’t think we need to elevate that into a criminal proceeding.”

Is this a trend now?

In September, I brought you the story of Chuck Chalk, a candidate for Mayor in Warner Robins, Ga, and a disclaimer he printed on his yardsigns that reads, “For display only on private property.”

Mary Norwood Sign Full

Yesterday, I was out and being the political geek that I am noticed a similar disclaimer on Mary Norwood’s signs. Here’s a closer look.

Mary Norwood Sign Closeup

I didn’t pay close enough attention to Ms. Norwood’s signs the last time she ran for office to know if she has done this before, but it made me wonder if we’ll be seeing more of these kinds of disclaimers in the future.

Mary Norwood Sign Website

Like Chalk’s campaign, Norwood also mentions her preference for private property sign placement on her website.

I will note that I personally take issue with the use of “Re-elect” on a logo or sign for someone who is not currently holding the office they seek. I think it’s on the border of being deceptive.

Splish SPLOST

In Gwinnett County, local Tea Party activist Steve Ramey is actively opposing passage of the next SPLOST penny sales tax.

Steve Ramey, head of the Gwinnett Tea Party is actively campaigning against the SPLOST, in part, because he says he worries it is just a long list of pet projects.

“I’ve seen it happen so many others times when taxes are wanted to do projects they always use the kids. And I think its very sad that you prey upon the feelings of a parent somewhere in order to get it accomplished like that,” Ramey said. “If its so important there should have been money brought up a long time ago. Sand Hook was what a year ago and we’re still waiting and we haven’t done anything more for our kids here? How come?”

[Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte] Nash counters by saying financially, the SPLOST is the commission’s only option to raise the necessary funds.

“Unfortunately we’re talking about $5 million,” she said. “That may be a relatively small dollar figure with the budget but we’ve got calls on all the dollars that are in our budget at this time.”

Tonight, the Gwinnett Tea Party and the Gwinnett County Commission will host a Town Hall meeting on the upcoming SPLOST vote.  For most voters, SPLOST will be the only item on the ballot for the November 5th election.

The Town Hall will be held at the Historic Courthouse (185 W Crogan) in downtown Lawrenceville on Wednesday, October 30th, at 7pm. Sandra Parrish, reporter for WSB Radio, will be the moderator.

Both sides will have 2 or 3 representatives present, and each representative will be given a few minutes for introductory remarks.  Once these remarks are completed, the remainder of the time will be used for questions from the audience.  Questions will be written down by attendees and collected by a representative from both sides.  Similar questions will be combined so as not to repeat the same question multiple times.

The Gwinnett Tea Party meets twice each month – on the First Thursday in Lawrenceville and on the Last Tuesday in Suwanee.  Meetings are mainly educational in nature, dress is casual, and all are welcome.  For details on upcoming meetings please visit www.GwinnettTeaParty.org.

Georgia Republican Assembly “Let Freedom Ring”

GRA_flyer

The Georgia Republican Assembly is hosting an event on Friday and Saturday, the 15-16th of November at the Atlanta Airport Hilton.

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