UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: Twenty hours after polls closed, Athens’ approximately 15,000 absentee ballots have been counted and reported.
John Q. Williams upset Sheriff Ira Edwards in the Democratic primary with 51% of nearly 19,000 votes cast. Williams will face Republican Robert Hare in November, but with Clarke County trending bluer every year, that race is likely a foregone conclusion.
Absentees gave a huge boost to Carol Myers, who won a three-way race for Commission District 8 on the Eastside without a runoff. Myers received 55% of nearly 3,000 votes cast to Kamau Hull’s 31% and Andrea Farnham’s 14%.
And they propelled the late commissioner Jerry NeSmith to victory in District 8. NeSmith and challenger Jesse Houle were virtually tied when in-person votes came in, but NeSmith wound up with 57% of the vote. A special election will now be held to fill the seat.
District 4 commissioner Allison Wright and District 10 commissioner Mike Hamby won re-election easily. Wright beat Michael Stapor 67–33, and Hamby beat Knowa Johnson 70–30.
In District 2 of the Board of Education, Kirrena Gallagher defeated Mary Bagby 54–46.
UPDATE 4:37 a.m.: Shoutout to anyone who’s still up counting absentees, or waiting on results. I’m going to bed.
UPDATE 4:09 a.m.: Still nothing.
UPDATE 3:10 a.m.: Still waiting on absentee ballots.
UPDATE 1:33 a.m.: Let’s check in on some federal races. Jon Ossoff has a massive lead with 46% of the vote in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, but is likely to face a runoff with former candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico or former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson.
Ossoff, who briefly gained national prominence when he nearly flipped a north Atlanta congressional district three years ago, has not declared victory, but did issue a statement attacking Republicans’ handling of yesterday’s election.
The lack of leadership and personal accountability from Secretary Raffensperger is outrageous. Georgians of all political persuasions expect an efficient and reliable voting process, and they expect their elected leaders to have the courage and integrity to admit their own errors. Secretary Raffensperger today personally demonstrated the very worst in public leadership by not just failing in his basic responsibilities, but also refusing to acknowledge those failures. Secretary Raffensperger owes the people of Georgia an apology for Tuesday’s outrages and a full and detailed plan to protect Georgians’ voting rights in November.
Tabitha Johnson-Green once again looks likely to win the right to get crushed by Rep. Jody Hice. She has 68% of the vote, including 65% in opponent Andrew Ferguson’s home county of Clarke.
Devin Pandy and Dan Wilson are competing for the right to face Brooke Siskin in a futile effort to win the 9th Congressional District. On the Republican side, state Rep. Matt Gurtler, state Sen. John Wilkinson, state Rep. Kevin Tanner, former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun and gun store owner Andrew Clyde are bunched up near the top for the open seat.
UPDATE 12:35 a.m.: Kirrena Gallagher declared victory in the District 2 school board race by dancing to Sir Mix-a-Lot. Although absentee ballots have yet to be reported, she has a 20-point lead on Mary Bagby, and early in-person votes indicate that is unlikely to change much.
UPDATE 11:51 p.m.: All of ACC’s in-person votes have now been counted, and the Commission District 8 race has tightened. Carol Myers still leads, but her percentage has shrunk from 49% to 41%. She has 439 votes, Kamau Hull has 396, and Andrea Farnham has 226. A runoff between Myers and Hull is looking more likely.
In District 6, the late Jerry NeSmith now has a six-vote advantage over Jesse Houle.
John Q. Williams leads Sheriff Ira Edwards by 198 votes, or roughly 2 percentage points.
Now we wait for absentees.
UPDATE 11:19 p.m.: Board of Elections Chairman Jesse Evans has confirmed that absentee ballots are still being processed, and none have been reported in the official results yet.
It shouldn’t make much of a difference in either the District 4 or District 10 commission races, which Flagpole is calling for incumbents Allison Wright and Mike Hamby, based on their sizable leads, but that fact could have implications for the District 6 commission race.
Incumbent Jerry NeSmith passed away unexpectedly just two days ago, and at least a few Election Day voters who were aware of his untimely death may have cast their ballots for challenger Jesse Houle believing Houle was the only option.
Houle, a longtime progressive activist, also boosted their profile during the recent protests against police racism and violence. Whatever the reason, so far Houle is carrying a slight lead among today’s voters, while NeSmith has a slight lead among those who voted early in person.
UPDATE 10:24 p.m.: ACC District 10 Commissioner Mike Hamby has won a fourth term, defeating Knowa Johnson with 61% of the vote.
Results are now coming in for ACC—100% of precincts in District 10, partial results in others—and two races are neck and neck.
Incumbent Sheriff Ira Edwards is losing to ACC police Sgt. John Q. Williams by 234 votes. Williams has 52% to Edwards’ 48%.
And the late District 6 Commissioner Jerry NeSmith trails challenger Jesse Houle by 28 votes. NeSmith died unexpectedly in an accidental fall Sunday.
Carol Myers is on the cusp of winning a three-way race for District 8 commissioner outright, with 49% of the vote to Kamau Hull’s 33% and Andrea Farnham’s 18%. Incumbent Andy Herod opted not to run again.
District 4 Commissioner Allison Wright is running away with her race, leading challenger Michael Stapor 66–34.
In the open District 2 Board of Education race, Kirrena Gallagher leads Mary P. Bagby 61–39.
UPDATE 9:51 p.m.: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez weighed in on voting problems in Georgia.
It’s not a Republican-run election in Georgia if something doesn’t go wrong. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has made his predecessor Brian Kemp proud by holding yet another election marred by voter suppression. Once again, Georgians are facing inoperable voting machines, delayed openings, a shortage of poll workers, and criminally long waiting lines just to exercise their constitutional right to make their voices heard. In the words of 80-year-old Georgia voter Anita Heard, who waited hours to cast her ballot this morning, “This is ridiculous.” And it must be fixed before the general election in November. Democrats believe our democracy works best when it’s easier for people to vote, not harder. That’s why we will keep fighting tooth and nail to protect the right that protects all others—the right to vote.
UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: No results have been reported in Clarke County yet.
Presumptive nominee Joe Biden is winning 82% of the vote in the Democratic presidential primary. Biden has already clinched the nomination by winning a majority of all delegates. Bernie Sanders is second with 9%.
John Ossoff leads the Democratic U.S. Senate race with 44% of the vote. Teresa Tomlinson and Sarah Riggs Amico have 14% each.
About 12% of precincts are reporting statewide.
UPDATE 8:48 p.m.: Oconee County Commission Chairman John Daniell is cruising to re-election, and James Hale will be the next sheriff.
With two-thirds of precincts reporting, Daniell has easily held off two challengers, winning 5,535 votes to Johnny Pritchett’s 1,709 and Carol Bennett’s 848. Daniell will face Democrat Eric Gisler, who ran unopposed, in November, but Oconee County is overwhelming Republican.
In what many expected to be a tighter race, James Hale, a captain under retiring Sheriff Scott Berry, leads former University of Georgia police chief Jimmy Williamson 6,287 votes to 2,189. Both are Republicans; there is no Democratic opposition.
Mark Thomas, the incumbent Post 1 commissioner, has an overwhelming lead over challenger John Laster, 6,983 votes to 1,093. The story is the same for Post 4, where incumbent Mark Saxon leads Maria Caudill 6,827 votes to 1,250.
The Board of Education Post 5 race is a little tighter, but not much. Michael Ransom leads Adam Spence 4,590 votes to 2,915.
For probate judge, ACC Deputy Police Chief Mike Hunsinger holds a large lead over George Roberts and Jimmy Williams, with 6,292 votes to Williams’ 2,822 and Roberts’ 1,735. Probate Court judges — who mainly oversee wills and estates — are not required to practice law in counties of less than 96,000 people.
6:12 p.m.: Athens voters had few problems casting their ballots today, but election results are not likely to start rolling in until late this evening because of long lines in metro Atlanta.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said he won’t release any results until the last polling place closes. Fulton County is keeping polls open an extra two hours, until at least 9 p.m. and perhaps longer, as anyone in line at that time is entitled to vote. Counting large numbers of absentee ballots will also take time.
In Athens, Flagpole readers reported short or nonexistent lines at local polling sites. ACC Board of Elections member Rocky Raffle told Flagpole he has been visiting precincts around the county and saw no major issues.
Four ACC Commission seats, one school board seat and the Democratic nominations for sheriff, U.S. Senate and Athens’ two congressional seats are up for grabs today, along with the Republican nomination for the 9th Congressional District.
Oconee County has a hotly contested Republican primary for sheriff. Three county commission seats and a school board seat are on the GOP ballot as well, in addition to a nonpartisan race for probate court judge.
Check back later for results as they are announced.
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