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Blog Topic: Breaking News

  • In the Loop: Athens' John Barrow Loses Bid to Become Georgia Secretary of State

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    Republican Brad Raffensperger defeated Barrow in a runoff Tuesday.

    Democrat John Barrow lost his bid to become Georgia's secretary of state Tuesday to Republican Brad Raffensperger, and Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton kept his seat on the Public Service Commission, defeating Democrat Lindy Miller.

    Barrow's loss means that a Republican will be running Georgia's elections in 2020—when President Donald Trump and one of his staunchest supporters, GOP Sen. David Perdue, are on the ballot—and 2024, when Gov.-elect Brian Kemp will be up for re-election.

    It also comes amid widespread accusations among Democrats that voter suppression efforts under Kemp, the former secretary of state, cost Democrat Stacey Abrams the gubernatorial election.

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  • In the Loop: Barrow Urges Athens Democrats to Get Out the Vote in Runoff for Secretary of State

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    "Whoever wants it more wins," Athens Democrat John Barrow told a small group of supporters during a last-minute campaign stop on Monday night, just hours before polls opened for a runoff election for secretary of state. "We need all the hay in the barn we can get."

    Barrow is running to be Georgia's top election official, and Stacey Abrams supporters need no reminder of how important that position can be after her narrow loss to Republican Brian Kemp last month amidst widespread accusations of voter suppression and irregularities at the polls.

    "Y'all know the stakes," Barrow said. "I'm running for an office nobody knew anything about. Now the whole country has gotten a crash course."

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  • Grub Notes: 'Brunch Bill' Takes Effect in Athens This Sunday

     

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    Photo Credit: Bailey Brautigan/Pexels

    This Sunday, Athens restaurants can start pouring mimosas and bloody marys for early risers—and by early, I mean 10-ish.

    At a called voting meeting prior to their agenda-setting meeting Tuesday night, the Athens-Clarke County Commission unanimously approved an ordinance pushing up the time when restaurants can start serving alcohol on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.

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  • In the Loop: Athens-Area Reservoir Named to Georgia's 'Dirty Dozen'

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    The Georgia Water Coalition has named the planned withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River for an expanded Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir on its 2018 Georgia’s Dirty Dozen list.

    The coalition labeled the proposed Apalachee River water intake “an exercise in overbuilding” and called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to turn down the current requests for the intake.

    The Georgia Water Coalition is an alliance of more than 200 organizations, including the Greater Apalachee River Community, a group of Oconee County and Morgan County residents that organized this year to represent the interests of the Apalachee River.

    “For the Apalachee, the aquatic wildlife it harbors and the people who live along and play in it, this proposed withdrawal creates other problems simply because it is super-sized for such a small river,” the report states.

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  • In the Loop: Election Officials Butt Heads as Recount Forces Athens to Miss Deadline

     

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections faces possible state sanctions after missing the deadline to certify election results because of a chaotic recount Tuesday that raised as many questions as it answered.

    The “recanvassing”—prompted by petitions from three voters in eight precincts who were concerned about every vote being counted—started at 11 a.m. and was supposed to end at 2 p.m., but continued well past the 5 p.m. deadline for counties to certify their election results and deliver them to the secretary of state’s office.

    Vote totals were uploaded around 6:30 p.m., said Charlotte Sosebee, the director of elections and voter registration. However, the election wasn’t certified until closer to 8 p.m. Documents were turned over to the Georgia State Patrol at 9 a.m. today for delivery to Atlanta.

    Not only were all the votes counted on Election Day, the recanvassing revealed that too many were counted. Twenty-five mail-in absentee ballots were counted that should not have been.

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  • In the Loop: Piggly Wiggly Wants to Open on Prince Avenue

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    Photo Credit: Davis Property Group

    An artist's rendering of 100 Prince.

    A Piggly Wiggly is seeking to open in the development slated for the former St. Joseph Catholic Church property at the corner of Prince Avenue and Pulaski Street, according to Athens Downtown Development Authority co-director Linda Ford.

    The Piggly Wiggly will be a "small, urban" store, similar to grocery stores in Atlanta, with a "retro design" and will fulfill downtown and nearby residents' long-standing desire for a grocery store, Ford said at the ADDA meeting this afternoon.

    "This is something downtown has wanted for a very long time," she said.

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  • In the Loop: Athens-Clarke County Will Recount a Third of Its Votes

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    From left, Board of Elections members Jesse Evans, Michele Simpson and Charles Knapper and Director of Elections and Voter Registration Charlotte Sosebee.

    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.

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  • In the Loop: Deadline for Provisional Ballots Extended as ACC Prepares to Wrap Up Vote-Counting

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: Lawsuit Filed by Former Athens Candidate Against Kemp Dismissed After Kemp Resigns

     

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole/file

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp emerges to speak to supporters at the Classic Center early Wednesday morning.

    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.”

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  • In the Loop: Republicans Retake Athens House Seats; Abrams Vows to Fight On

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    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.

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