NewsPub Notes

Republican Legislators Say Good Luck With That Absentee Ballot

Remember spring of 2020, when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, because of the pandemic, sent out absentee ballots to every Georgia voter? That made it so easy to vote without standing in line or mingling with other possibly infected voters. I filled mine out and then took it down to the drop box in front of the Board of Elections office and happened to drop it in right after District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link dropped hers. Now those absentee ballots are gone, and so are the drop boxes. District 3 has been moved to the other side of the county, and Link has been moved off the commission come January.

I mean, you can still get an absentee ballot—at least I hope you can—if you have a computer and a printer and patience. Our Georgia legislators—every one of whom was safely elected in the last election with no hint of voter fraud—took steps recently to “safeguard” voting and to make damned sure that anybody trying to vote with an absentee ballot had better be a computer expert. I’m not that, but I have made my living for the last 40 years working on a computer. Still, it took me an hour and a half of trial and error finally to successfully (I hope) send in mine and Gay’s applications for absentee ballots in the upcoming May 24 primary. You know: you fill in all the information fields on your computer (you have one, of course), and then you print out the form (you have a printer, of course), and you stick your driver’s license (you have one, of course) in the right place on the form, and then you whip out your smartphone (which you have, of course). Then you can take a picture of the form with the license and email that picture to the board of elections, or you can just mail the printed application to the board (you have a stamp, of course). There’s a second page to the application which seems to be for board of elections use, so I sent that in, too. Among other things, it informs them that I’m 65 or older, and that I want to receive absentee ballots for the rest of this election cycle. If you’re unlucky enough to be under 65, you’ve got to reapply for an absentee ballot for every election.

You know what? I think there are going to be an awful lot of old people and folks who aren’t computer whizzes standing in line to vote this time around, thanks to “our” legislators, but please remember that it is now a crime to offer those old, un-tech-savvy voters a drink of water. Thanks a lot Bill, Frank, Marcus and Houston! Y’all rock.

Remember when we had to go down to the courthouse on election night to get the returns as they came in from the various precincts? All the candidates and their families and the press and other political junkies were there rubbing elbows, watching the big blackboard for the next precinct to report. Writing those returns was usually John Elliott, a Board of Elections member who was a fierce Republican partisan. Even during the period when local Democrats were winning all the races, John came out and wrote those returns. No matter how much he hated the numbers, he knew they were honest because he knew the board was self-policing, since it was made up of representatives of all parties. The Board of Elections is still made up by law of local people representing all sides of the political equation and will continue to keep elections fair, unless the state government barges in and takes over, as “our” legislators have now allowed it to do.

The tail end of the Big Lie at the local level proves that it never happened. All elections are local. All over Georgia elections are handled by local people where political competitors keep a watchful eye on each other. That’s as true in South Georgia as it is in Atlanta and Athens.

“Our” Republican legislators—Cowsert, Ginn, Wiedower and Gaines—should be voted out of office because of what they have done to our elections and to our democratically elected commission. That’s not likely, because they actually represent the surrounding counties, not Athens-Clarke. We can at least refuse to elect their surrogate candidates running to replace the commissioners “our” legislators abolished.

P.S. Ballots came within a week. Yay!