Photo Credit: Blake Aued
In any other year it would have been a mere formality. But an Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections meeting on Monday to certify the county's vote ended with a vote to recount eight precincts on an extremely tight deadline before sending the results on to the state.
Newly appointed board member Jesse Evans submitted petitions to conduct a "recanvassing" in eight out of 24 precincts: Howard B. Stroud, Clarke Central, Lay Park, the multimodal center, Whitehead Road (which includes both 5A and 5B), Chase Street and Cedar Shoals.
Under state law, three voters in a precinct can submit a notarized request to trigger a "recanvassing"—essentially a recount, followed by testing of voting machines—if they believe there is a discrepancy. Commissioners Melissa Link and Mariah Parker and Commissioner-elect Tim Denson worked with voters in their districts to submit the petitions, according to Link.
That triggered a three-hour discussion among board members and attorneys—as well as, at times, some of the 20 or so activists who attended the meeting and interjected or were given permission to speak—about whether such a recanvassing could even be accomplished.
The law requires a quorum of the Board of Elections and the poll manager for each precinct to be present, as well as giving notice to all of the candidates on the ballot and political parties so they can attend or send a representative. And the recanvassing has to be accomplished by mid-afternoon today, or ACC will be in violation of another state law requiring counties to certify their vote totals by 5 p.m.
"This is all news to me," ACC Attorney Bill Berryman said when he learned about the petitions. He asked for and received an hour-long recess to research this issue.
About 175 Athens voters who cast provisional ballots have another few hours to resolve whatever issue led to them not being able to cast a regular ballot on Election Day.
Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections staff has reviewed 218 provisional ballots cast by voters whose eligibility was uncertain. Of those, 43 have been counted and 175 are still unresolved, according to board member Jesse Evans.
Ordinarily, voters have until the close of business the Friday after the election to resolve issues with provisional ballots. The BOE voted unanimously on Friday, though, to push the deadline to 4 p.m. today.
“This would allow our community as much time as possible to resolve any issue with their provisional ballot,” Evans said.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole/file
A former candidate for an Athens-area congressional seat was one of five voters who filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to force Brian Kemp—the apparent winner in what is still a disputed gubernatorial race—to recuse himself from overseeing Georgia’s election.
Kemp announced his intention to resign as secretary of state at noon today just before a hearing began this morning in Atlanta, rendering the lawsuit moot.
One of the plaintiffs was Barrow County resident Chalis Montgomery, who ran in the 10th Congressional District Democratic primary last spring. Tabitha Johnson-Green of Sandersville won the nomination and lost to Rep. Jody Hice on Tuesday.
“It’s really important when we have suits like this to show a variety of plaintiffs and a multiplicity of concerns,” Montgomery said. “Even though I’m not running for office right now, it’s important to stand up against our democratic norms. We don’t have anything if we don’t have free and fair elections.”
12:26 p.m.: Republicans have retaken two GOP-leaning state House seats that Democrats won in a 2017 special election.
A final batch of 3,037 mail-in absentee ballots that Athens-Clarke County election officials uploaded at about noon were not enough to save state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville). The absentees netted Wallace 302 votes and Gonzalez 227.
In the final tally, Marcus Wiedower defeated Wallace 53 percent to 47 percent, and Houston Gaines beat Gonzalez 54–46.
At the end of early voting on Friday, 11,709 Oconee County residents had cast a ballot, representing 42.5 percent of the county’s 27,530 active, registered voters.
Four years ago at the end of early voting, only 24.4 percent of the county’s then 22,526 active registered voters had participated, indicating final turnout for Tuesday’s election almost certainly will exceed by a considerable amount turnout four years ago.
A shootout in the Cedar Creek neighborhood this morning left one person dead and two more injured, according to Athens-Clarke County police.
At about 7 a.m., the suspect arrived at the victims’ residence on Ponderosa Drive and forced one victim, who was leaving for work, into the house. The suspect then held one victim at gunpoint. The suspect and one of the victims exchanged gunfire, according to an ACCPD news release.
When police arrived at 7:28 a.m., the suspect was dead and the two victims were injured with gunshot wounds. The victims were taken to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.
With issues like Medicaid expansion on the table, health care has been a major factor in the governor's race. Graduate students at the University of Georgia College of Public Health created this handy-dandy graphic to help voters understand the candidates' stances.
"We felt there was a need for concise information without any political rhetoric," student Megan Bramlett said. "These issues are complicated and layered, and our goal was to provide a clear and objective visual to assist Georgia voters as they get ready to head to the polls."
Students divided into two teams, one for Democrat Stacey Abrams and one for Republican Brian Kemp. They were led by Bramlett and Seth Riggle, under the watch of professor Grace Bagwell Adams.
The Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation has hired Tommy Valentine as its new executive director.
Valentine replaces Amy Kissane, who left in March after 16 years leading the historic preservation nonprofit. David Bryant had been serving as interim director.
“We are excited to have Tommy join our team as the Heritage Foundation enters a new era,” ACHF board President Kim Klonowski said in a news release. “Tommy knows this county, he knows nonprofits and he has put forth a vision for our organization that is firmly in line with where the board believes we should go.”
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