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.
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."
Republican Brad Raffensperger was a no-show for an Atlanta Press Club debate with Democrat John Barrow for the runoff for secretary of state.
The debate aired Tuesday on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Raffensperger claimed he had a scheduling conflict, but the press club said it had been trying to negotiate a date and time for almost three weeks.
His absence allowed Barrow—a former congressman and Harvard Law graduate—to run roughshod over an empty podium as he contrasted himself with both Raffensperger and Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who was widely criticized for voter suppression as secretary of state while overseeing his own election.
Even though Stacey Abrams fell a bit short in her bid for governor, there will still be a runoff Dec. 4.
Athens’ own John Barrow faces Republican Brad Raffensperger for secretary of state, so if you’re not happy with the way the election was conducted under Brian Kemp, you know what to do. Barrow may be a centrist white guy who doesn’t quite give you that tingly feeling Abrams did, but he wants to get rid of Georgia’s antiquated voting machines, and he’s certainly not going to go along with suppressing minority voters on behalf of the GOP. The importance of having a Democrat in this office come 2020 can’t be overstated.
Oconee County voting on Nov. 6 showed little variation by election contest, suggesting that most ballots were cast along party lines.
No Republican got more than 74.6 percent of the vote or less than 66.8 percent in Oconee County, and no Democrat got more than 30.7 percent of the vote or less than 25.4 percent, an analysis of the certified results shows.
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.
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.
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