Election Integrity Act of 2021 on fast track to becoming law

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ATLANTA – Shortly after passing the House of Representatives earlier today, the Senate voted to approve the House’s amendments to SB 202, also known as the Election Integrity Act.

The House passed SB 202 with a 100-75 vote. The Senate approved the amendment 34-20.

Kemp intends to sign the bill tonight at 6:30 p.m. Following the signing of the bill, Governor Kemp will deliver remarks from the Governor’s Ceremonial Office. The remarks will be broadcast live on GPB.org.

The Election Integrity Act will bring sweeping changes to the election process in Georgia. Drop boxes will only be allowed to be placed inside early voting locations during voting hours. Food or drink stations must be set up 150 feet away from polling locations in accordance with existing campaigning laws. If someone breaks those rules, they can be charged with a misdemeanor. Unlimited challenges for voter eligibility and registration.

State elections board gains more power in the bill as well with the legislature now appointing the chairman. Previously, the Secretary of State served as the chairman, but under SB 202, the Secretary of State would assume a more administrative role. The state board can also review local boards of elections when needed and if necessary appoint one person to replace the board.

Several Senate Democrats argued extending a hand of control over local boards was just a grab for power by Republicans who are unsure how to win in a changing Georgia.

Runoff elections would move from nine weeks after the primary to four weeks.

Secretary of State and state elections board would inform the legislature before entering into any agreements, settlements, or consent orders.

Two days of Saturday voting and Sunday voting will be implemented as well.

The 90-plus page bill details all the changes to O.C.G.A. Those interested can read it on the General Assembly’s site.

Vernon Jones discusses elections and his part in America

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Jones

Spending a lot of recent time in Florida, Vernon Jones (R) spoke with FYN today on his efforts and plans with former president Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and

Meeting and studying with Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Governor, Jones said he is looking into businesses, vaccinations, and protection practices that Florida is doing so well.

Voicing concerns on other states and the federal implications of many modern issues including COVID, Jones again pointed to Florida as having the right idea. Jones supported DeSantis’ remarks that all are welcome and loved, but denied transgendered biological males from competing in female sports. He called out President Joe Biden for pushing to allow such things. Delving deeper into the transgender issue, Jones voiced his dismay that many are also pushing to inject children with hormones and perform surgery on children to modify their gender.

Jones said, “Now think about this, you have to be 18 to vote, 21 to buy any alcohol or anything. And they are performing this type of surgery on children and injecting them with hormones? Please, a child doesn’t know any better. You raise a child up and the child will make a decision at the appropriate time.”

Speaking on so many issues, BKP asked Jones if a recent group of tweets on social media bore any further effect on the Governor’s Race in Georgia. After many of those tweets started with “If I were governor…” the question became, “Are you running for governor?”

In response, Jones gave a few hints, but never directly said yes or no. Instead, he offered an analogy of baking a cake and the cake needing time and preparation to cook properly. He said, “I’m baking a cake. I’m not going to mess this cake up. I’m going to take it out when the time is appropriate.”

Continuing he claimed if he was governor, Trump would still be president because he would have campaigned for him in Georgia every single day.

With credentials ranging from optimizing organizations, agencies, and departments through corporate training to experience as a Chief Executive, he said he has been a Chief Executive longer than Brian Kemp. Serving twice as a County Executive in Dekalb County including nearly $4 billion in budget, one of the largest police departments in the state, one of the largest transportation budgets, public utilities, and the involved staff for that organization, Jones said he is among the most effective Chief Executives to ever come through Georgia. He never raised taxes, managed Bond referendums, and proved himself a fiscal conservative.

In his time in Florida, spending time with Trump, the discussions of the coming elections showcased Trumps movements in the coming months. Vernon spoke on efforts to grow the Republican Party, to expand it in the coming elections to make it stronger. In order to accomplish that, he said, “Yes, I’m a candidate for running to save America.”

He did not elaborate on what office or exactly when, but what is important to Jones is Georgia. He said, “If you’re not taking me seriously about my efforts looking at running for Governor and putting Georgia first, then you’re out of your mind.”

Jones also spoke on other members of the party with a message of unity. When asked about opponents to face Raphael Warnock and the possibility of Doug Collins returning to an office, he said, “Doug Collins is as solid as Stone Mountain.”

He said that he knows Collins loves Georgia and wants to help Georgians. An “asset to Georgia,” he needs to be a part. Jones said he doesn’t believe Collins should be on the sidelines.

Jones invited Republicans to join the movement to reinvigorate and strengthen the party finding more information at wakingupamerica.us and signing up to be a part of the process and efforts to bring back jobs, economy, freedoms, and constitutional rights.

County backs off from creating Board of Elections

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Gilmer County BOC, Intergovernmental Agreement, session, Meeting, Board

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Once again returning to conversations of an election board in Gilmer County, the Board of Commissioners is putting the agenda item to create a board on hold.

According to Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, the BOC will not host the agenda item on every meeting as previously planned. The decision came among the board’s agreement after Paris reported that he thought it best to seek an alternative path due to his investigations and considerations of the board’s make-up.

Paris said, “When I got to looking around some at Elections Boards, what I found is that yeah almost all counties have them, but a lot of counties are having a lot of problems with them.”

Paris noted Fulton County specifically whose election board is denying legal requests for documents. He also noted reported problems in Fannin County where board members won’t speak to each other.

Paris said, “I don’t believe the two parties can hold civil conversation between themselves nowadays.” Though he noted that he previously believed Gilmer might be one of the few places it could occur, he no longer felt that way.

Acknowledging that elections have grown, Paris said he understood that elections are so minutely watched and that the work is substantially larger than it used to be.

The discussion continued with Post Commissioner Hubert Parker saying he agreed with not moving forward on an election board until the alternative has been studied.

Scott Chastain, Elections,

Gilmer County Probate Judge Scott Chastain

That alternative that the Board of Commissioners agreed to pursue and the Probate Judge Scott Chastain is currently looking into, involves reconfiguring the Probate Office to possibly include some extra staff to “offload” some of that work.

What the Probate Office would use this staff for in off years without elections is yet to be discussed. However, the concept is in very early stages as both entities continue to look for a path forward.

Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson said, “I think that’s fantastic because that group has done a fantastic job with our elections.”

Paris echoed the sentiment saying Gilmer is among the few counties, in his opinion, that had a flawless election.

With a solid path forward for the commissioners, Paris made a final note that he told Judge Chastain that if there was a push in state legislation to force a Board of Elections, Gilmer would “fight it tooth and nail.”

However, Paris was also quick to note that while he shared this with Judge Chastain, it was not as a threat. Rather he wanted him to know the county’s stance. Paris said the conversation was “not contentious.” He went on to add that Chastain has been very civil in all conversations considering the county’s path forward for elections.

Probate Judge Chastain addresses commissioner questions in email

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Probate

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With the continuing process of such a “major change” for Gilmer County on the horizon, the Board of Commissioners have continued questioning the need, process, make-up, and representation for an Elections Board outside of the Probate Office for the county.

Continuing the discussion this month, Probate Judge Scott Chastain spoke with Commissioners about the board again. However, he had also been answering commissioners questions outside of meetings, too. Delving into the idea, Post 1 Commissioner Hubert Parker had issued questions to Chastain via email in order to garner more information.

Parker asked three questions of the Probate Judge. Upon request, the Board of Commissioners have provided that email to the public. The following are Chastain’s answers for the Board of Elections, in his own words.

What is the problem or situation we are attempting to solve?

One of the problems I am facing is the amount of work that I have to do in my office as the Probate Judge. As the numbers increase here in Gilmer County, the more volume of work I will see in my office. Another problem I face is as an elected official that Is over elections, when I am on the ballot, I cannot have any involvement with the elections. I have to appoint three people and pay them to monitor the elections in my absence but ultimately, if something goes wrong, I am still the Election Superintendent and would be responsible for the outcome. I do not like that nor believe it to be fair. They tell me that I cannot have anything to do with the election but then hold me accountable if something goes wrong. I am attempting to fix a couple of things by requesting a Board of Registration and Elections. I am trying to assure the citizens of Gilmer County that they have someone or a board that can focus entirely on the registration and elections here in Gilmer County. I feel as though my other responsibilities and duties are keeping me from being able to do that. I am trying to restore confidence in our election process by removing the administration of elections by an elected official that appears on the ballot. I am also trying to preserve the right of Gilmer County to create this board on their own without the intervention from the State of Georgia. As I previously stated, it is just a matter of time before every county in Georgia has a board. With 31 Probate Judges left as Election Superintendents and 29 of those Judges wanting it removed from their office now, it is only a matter of time before Gilmer County will be forced to create one and I would rather us have the flexibility to create it now instead of like they tell us to.

How are elections handled now? What is your role and what is Tammy’s role?

I am not sure if you mean specifically or just generally. Right now, Tammy Watkins is in charge of registration and all early voting, including absentee ballots. My role is to over see the election side of it. Most of that will happen the day of election. I am also in charge of all qualifying and filing of the elected officials reports. Tammy does a large portion of that now. Tammy and I proof all ballots, order the ballots, order election supplies, Logistic and Accuracy testing of the election equipment, notifications in the news paper, sample ballot in the news paper, recruit poll workers, train poll workers, secure polling places, deliver all election equipment to polling places, Election Day support for poll workers, election results, upload election results, email election results to the state, pick up equipment from polling places, consolidate the election results, etc. Of course, Tammy and I have a wonderful team of folks to help us do all of this because there is no way one person could do it all. I also prepare a budget each year for elections and I am required to attend several hours of training in elections. Tammy also attends this training. I am also in charge of changing and/or consolidating precincts.

Generally, boards serve as an oversight function and do not handle the daily operations. What role do you think they would play in this situation?

I know that Tammy has several connections with nearby counties that have created boards in the past and I know that there are a few of them that have active working boards. Tammy would not be in favor of just an oversight board. This board would need to be active in the workings of an election. Tammy would have more insight into that than I would. I understand your concern and I respect it. I do not want to create a problem or burden for the county and that is why I am advocating for this board. With the increase of the workload in my office, if the elections remain, I will be forced to add staff in the coming years or worse, I will make a mistake because I am trying to do to much at one time. Both of these outcomes will cost the county more money. Tammy and I are already doing duplicate work at times. Because we are both trying to be sure that elections are ran the best they can be, we sometimes do the same task when it only needs to be done once. We both are responding to emails and phones calls at the same time, we both are trying to fix the same problem at the same time. We both attend training and we both have budgets related to elections. As you know, I have a Probate Judge budget and an Election budget. If there was a board appointed, Tammy could combine her Registrar budget with the Election budget and therefore eliminate one?

Chastain also offered a final paragraph in response. He stated,

I truly want what is best for Gilmer County. If I didn’t I would have just ask the Commissioners for additional compensation or additional staff. I feel the best thing that could be done right now is to form a board of registration and elections and put people in place to protect our elections by having people able to provide supervision 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Thank you again for seriously considering this proposal. If you have any follow up questions, please feel free to let me know. I look forward to hearing the discussion tomorrow morning.

As previously reported, the Board of Commissioners have yet to make an official resolution, but have been actively discussing and debating the make-up and the way they would like to create a board, indicating that they are likely to move forward with the establishing of such an entity. The coming months will see more details fleshed out on the topic and should provide a clearer picture on specifically how the county will move forward with this item.

Additionally, the Probate Office is set to finish out this year following up on the most recent elections, should anything arise. Chastain agreed with Commissioners about taking time to create the new Election Board. He did request, however, to have the board in place before the beginning preparations of the 2022 Governor’s race are needed.

Gilmer election voting turnout stays above 65 percent

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Voting

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – As many expected and even publicly stated, Gilmer County did notice a drop in election voting turnout from the November Presidential Election to January’s Runoff Elections.

However, that drop has many surprised at how little the drop was. November saw 16,576 people cast their votes through one of the four voting paths including Election Day Precinct voting, Advanced in-person voting, Absentee by mail voting, and provisional ballot voting.

January saw 14,847 people vote in the county through those paths.

That equals 74.45 percent of the population in November and 65.17 percent of the population in January according to the Gilmer County Registrar’s Office. Only a 9.28 percent drop. This percentage comes from the Registrar’s records of Registered voters which also increase between the two elections from 22,264 in November to 22,781 in January.

January saw more people voting on Election Day with 5,601 compared to November’s 4,907.

January did see less in-person voting and absentee by mail with in-person reaching 6,292 (November – 8,150) and absentee reaching 2,949 (November – 3,506).

As previously reported, the increases have continued to rise throughout the year, some are calling ballot harvesting by one party as part of the reason for the increases, especially in absentee by mail, though it decreased from November to January. Others are simply citing the current times and consequences as the reason for increases.

Indeed, several people have made note that they are first time voters, like James Short who said he voted in the November election for the first time because it is the most important election he has seen in his life.

Meanwhile, the outcomes and ramifications of the elections, suspected fraud, and division among citizens continues spiraling into increasing tension among the nation and it’s citizens.

These hostilities are even affecting local rural counties as neighbor Pickens County recently posted deputies to polling stations during the January Election. The Sheriff’s Office issued a pre-emptive statement beforehand assuring citizens that there was no present threat. However, the did say that the action was taken due to threats received and dealt with in other counties.

The importance and effects that elections are having on people is continuing to be shown in total votes numbers in counties across the nation. Even with a drop in voting in January’s Runoff Election, Gilmer is still a prime example of this with well over half of its registered voting population turning out for a runoff election.

LIVE: watch the Georgia Governmental Affairs Hearing

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cut taxes Georgia capitol election hearing

ATLANTA, Ga – At 9 a.m., The Georgia House of Representatives Governmental Affairs Committee convened to discuss election irregularities.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee report on the June 2020 primary election may be found here:   http://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/CommitteeDocuments/2020/GovernmentalAffairs/Elections_Investigation_Report.pdf.

Chairman Blackmon’s committee has established an email for Georgians to report voting irregularities at [email protected].

Gilmer amid statewide recount and audit of elections

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recount

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County and its Probate Court are deep amid recounting ballots today as they join in what Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins is calling both an audit and a recount for the Presidential Election of 2020.

recount

With employees from the Probate Office, Registrars, and some other volunteers, officials are fully confident in finishing the counting by Tuesday night.

A major stress on certain county offices, this major process has drawn in employees from both the Probate Office and Registrar’s Office to undertake recounting every one of the 16,576 ballots cast in Gilmer County, according to viewers and officials present at the recount.

Begun on Friday, November 14, 2o20, the process is being undertaken in the Jury Assembly Room of the Gilmer County Courthouse. Gilmer Probate Judge Scott Chastain said they used the Jury Assembly Room to allow public access and viewing of the audit, as required by law. However, he said the room also allowed for social distancing between tables and for space so that one table would not accidentally hear someone from the next table over possibly causing some confusion.

Chastain told FYN that the process was going well on Friday, and they have been looking at the progress daily. Scheduled to count through today and ending tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17, 2020, they actually have until midnight on Wednesday to finish the count. This means that if something happens, the county does have a buffer of one extra day just in case.

recount

Registrar Sherri Jones, left, helps alongside Gary Watkins, right, in the 2020 recount and audit of the Presidential Election on November 13, 2020.

Nearly twenty people at some times helping the process with including some floating staff that comes and goes, Chastain said that eleven core people including the elections review board are constantly working through the process.

Chastain and Watkins are both confident in the speed they have been accomplishing the task and are both fully confident in finishing in the scheduled time.

One of the major points of note in this process, those involved in recounting the ballots are only counting the presidential election. Chastain said this was a concern of his in the beginning. He worried that they would be needing to recount every vote in every race. Instead, focusing only on the presidential race is also helping in accomplishing the recount and audit with speed.

Moving forward, two very different outcomes could mean two very different futures for Georgia. Should the audit come up with different numbers than what the computers accounted for, Chastain said, “When we’re finished statewide, my hope is what the machines said is what we come up with. Because if we have different numbers than the machines, it’s not going to be a good situation statewide.”

recount

A part of the statewide audit and recount, Gilmer County is going through 16,576 ballots through day-of, in-person-early, and absentee voting.

Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins echoed a similar thought saying that the recount could prove to be a test for the election equipment statewide. Watkins has also voiced, in previous interviews, her faith in Gilmer’s elections staff and poll workers and has been happy with the efforts that Gilmer has put forth in elections.

This specific election has seen records broken in terms of those visiting in early voting as well as absentee ballots. Yet, this phrase is beginning to lose some of its impact as Gilmer has repeatedly increased in the numbers this year in each of the election days throughout local, state, and federal offices.

Regardless of what the audit comes up with, some are still concerned that hand counts could become a common thing in future elections with parties constantly claiming instances of voter fraud and suppression as well as other things. However, nothing concrete has been reported yet.

August 11 runoff statewide election returns

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General Primary runoff August 11 state runoff returns

NORTH GEORGIA – Find out who won their August 11 runoff races with the district-wide returns for state and federal races in the FYN coverage area. FYN will update with the unofficial winners as soon as results come in. Please remember these election returns are unofficial until certified.

STATE

Representatives

State Representative District 1 – 100% reporting

Republican

PROJECTED WINNER: Mike Cameron – 56.35%

John Deffenbaugh – 43.65%

State Representative District 9 – 100% reporting

Republican

Steve Liebel – 33.27%

PROJECTED WINNER: Will Wade – 66.73%

State Representative District 10 – 100% reporting

Republican

PROJECTED WINNER: Victor Anderson – 61.38% 

Robert Crumley – 38.62%

SENATORS

State Senator District 50 – 100% reporting

Republican

Stacy Hall – 49.93%

Bo Hatchett – 50.07%

FEDERAL

Ninth District U.S. Congress – 95% reporting

Republican 

PROJECTED WINNER: Andrew Clyde – 56.28 %

Matt Gurtler – 43.72%

Democrat

PROJECTED WINNER: Devin Pandy – 68.38%

Brooke Siskin – 31.62%

14th District U.S. Congress – 75% reporting

Republican

John Cowan  – 42.98%

PROJECTED WINNER: Marjorie Greene – 57.02%

 

The General Election is scheduled for November 3 as well as the jungle primary for Senator Kelly Loeffler’s seat.

See the entire state’s election returns on the Secretary of State’s website.

Gilmer BOC will hold April Regular meeting in person

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Meeting

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Both cities and counties carry on amid the shutdown, and Gilmer is also moving forward in this time with their April meeting, but with a few changes.

Gilmer has already made changes over March as meetings saw a distancing line in the meeting room, and all meetings have been held in the Jury Assembly Room in the Gilmer County Courthouse. However, this month will see another change as the Board is only sending one agenda. Gilmer’s BOC will still meet is person, as of now, but will not be holding their usual work session.

Gilmer is continuing monitor situations during the shutdown and two agenda items stick out among the agenda as potential ramifications of the nations current situation.

Among the items is listed “Discussion and possible action to grant authority to the Tax Commissioner to waive Interest and Penalties” and “Discussion and possible action regarding the upcoming May General and Presidential Primaries.”

Elections have been a growing topic as we draw closer to May during a Presidential Election year which has, historically, been one of the highest turnout years for elections.

Not holding a work session, the public will be hearing discussion and votes in the same day for April. The rest of the meeting is set to proceed as normal with usual items like Citizens wishing to speak and the financial statement. The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 6 p.m., in the Jury Assembly Room of the Courthouse.

Meeting

Meeting

 

 

Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Election 2018

 2018 Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Tonight marks the run-offs for election races in Georgia, these results are unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State.

 

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 756,016 votes   51.97%

John Barrow (D) – 698,770 votes   48.03%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 749,805 votes   51.83%

Lindy Miller (D) – 696,957 votes   48.17%

 

 

Check for local results by county here:

 

Gilmer

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,337 votes   83.13%

John Barrow (D) – 880 votes   16.87%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,250 votes   81.79%

Lindy Miller (D) – 946 votes   18.21%

 

Pickens

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,408 votes   84.01%

John Barrow (D) – 839 votes   15.99%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,325 votes   82.70%

Lindy Miller (D) – 905   17.30%

 

Fannin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,522 votes   81.89%

John Barrow (D) – 779 votes   18.11%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,454 votes   80.57%

Lindy Miller (D) – 833 votes   19.43%

 

Dawson

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,985 votes   85.83%

John Barrow (D) – 658 votes   14.17%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,939 votes   85.02%

Lindy Miller (D) – 694 votes   14.98%

 

White

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,063 votes   82.78%

John Barrow (D) – 845 votes   17.22%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,960 votes   80.82%

Lindy Miller (D) – 940 votes   19.18%

 

Union

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,246 votes   80.92%

John Barrow (D) – 1,001 votes   19.08%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,108 votes   78.65%

Lindy Miller (D) – 1,115 votes   21.35%

 

Towns

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,161 votes   79.95%

John Barrow (D) – 542 votes   20.05%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,105 votes   78.22%

Lindy Miller (D) – 586 votes   21.78%

 

Murray

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,699 votes   88.99%

John Barrow (D) – 334 votes   11.01%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,691 votes   88.84%

Lindy Miller (D) – 338 votes   11.16%

 

Lumpkin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,378 votes   78.47%

John Barrow (D) – 927 votes   21.53%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,337 votes   77.89%

Lindy Miller (D) – 947 votes   22.11%

2018 Georgia State Election Results

Election 2018

2018 Georgia Election Results

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A closely watched gubernatorial race has come to a close, at least for now. With 100 percent of the precincts being accounted for and absentee ballots having been counted, Kemp has declared victory.

Cody Hall, Press Secretary with Kemp’s campaign said in a statement of this victory, “Brian Kemp earned nearly two million votes on Tuesday – by far the most of any gubernatorial candidate in our state’s history. Absentee ballots are counted and Kemp leads his opponent by 64,000 votes. Based on counts released by the Secretary of State’s office, Brian Kemp’s margin is so large that the number of provisional ballots and overseas ballots will not change his Election Day victory. Simply put, it is mathematically impossible for Stacey Abrams to win or force a run-off election.”

Stacey Abrams has yet to concede the election stating that she “will not give up until every vote is counted and every voice has been heard.”

“Peach State voters made a clear decision at the ballot box,” Hall spoke of Kemp’s declared victory, “Brian Kemp will now begin his transition as governor-elect of Georgia. He will work every day to keep our state moving in the right direction.”

Results from this race will not be official until all counties have certified. This certification is expected to be completed by Friday Nov. 9, but could run until Tuesday Nov. 13 due to the Federal Veteran’s Day holiday.

Updated Nov. 7 @ 5:34 p.m.

100% of precincts reporting

*These election results are unofficial until being certified by the Secretary of State’s office.

Governor:

Brian Kemp (R) –            50.33%          1,973,033 Votes

Stacey Abrams (D) –       48.72%          1,910,152 Votes

Ted Metz (L) –                 0.95%              37,086Votes

Lieutenant Governor:

Geoff Duncan (R) –                  51.74%          1,946,232 Votes

Sarah Riggs Amico (D) –        48.26%            1,815,508 Votes

Secretary of State:

Brad  Raffensperger (R) –           49.20%          1,901,394 Votes

John Barrow (D) –                        48.58%          1,877,514 Votes

Smythe DuVal (L) –                      2.23%            86,104 Votes

****The Secretary of State will now move into a runoff between Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow.****

Insurance Commissioner:

Jim Beck (R) –             50.47%            1,939,664 Votes

Janice Laws (D) –       46.88%            1,801,823 Votes

Donnie Foster (L) –    2.64%              101,583 Votes

State School Superintendent:

Otha Thornton (D) –            46.87%          1,801,696 Votes

Richard Woods (R) –           53.13%          2,042,221 Votes

Agriculture Commissioner:

Gary Black (R) –          53.18%        2,034,304 Votes
Fred Swan (D) –           46.82%        1,790,758 Votes

Labor Commissioner:

Mark Butler (R) –          52.56%        2,013,750 Votes

Richard Keatley (D) –   47.44%        1,817,341 Votes

U.S. Congress District 6:

Karen Handel (R) –       50%

Lucy McBath (D) –        50%

U.S. Congress District 7:

Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) –      49%

Rob Woodall (R) –                  51%

Georgia Governor Candidate Visits FYNTV

Election, Politics

BKP Interviews GA Candidate for Governor, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Among many topics, Kemp discusses immigration, Georgia voting machines, paper ballots, pay for law enforcement, and what Kemp’s opinion of the negotiations to bring Amazon HQ2 for Georgia.

State National 5/31/16

GMFTO

Gorillas and Government

 

Ads in Fannin Focus do not show up correctly in Sheriff Candidates Campaign Financial Reports

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Mark Thomason, the publisher of the Fannin Focus has been in the news a lot lately. This is an unrelated story to Thomason’s arrest, “Journalist Jailed”. It does, however go with the big picture of Thomason’s publication the Fannin Focus, “Intent on Integrity”. Read the story and you decide.

FYN has a copy of every Fannin Focus issue since primary election qualifying. We have reviewed each page for all campaign advertising. We also have a copy of the Fannin Focus advertising rate sheet. We have cross referenced the ads with the rate sheet. We have all the documents to support this article. FYN files the following report on three Fannin County Sheriff Republican Party Candidates, Johnny Scearce, Jack Taylor and Larry Bennett.

Fannin Sheriff Candidates Political Ad Reporting in Fannin Focus

#FanninCartel Defined

“A coalition or cooperative arrangement between political parties intended to promote a mutual interest”. Did this happen in the Fannin County Sheriff’s race?

Larry Bennett, Republican Candidate for Sheriff placed ads in issues of the Fannin Focus on 3/31, 4/7, 4/14 and 4/28. According to the Fannin Focus advertising rate sheet, the number of ads and the size of the ads Bennett placed should have totalled $1,142.78 in advertising with the Fannin Focus. According to Bennett’s Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report he spent $0 in advertising with the Fannin Focus. Bennett is the former police chief of McCaysville GA.

Jack Taylor Republican Candidate for Sheriff placed ads in issues of the Fannin Focus on 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24, 3/31, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28, 5/5, 5/12 and 5/19. According to the Fannin Focus advertising rate sheet, number of ads and size of the ads Taylor should have totaled $7,970.63 in advertising with the Fannin Focus. According to Taylor’s Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report he spent $600 in advertising with the Fannin Focus. This left $7,370.63 of unreported spending with the Fannin Focus. Remember all those full page ads Taylor ran in the paper?

Remember the marquee at the Swan Drive-In, “Vote Jack Taylor for Sheriff”? What did Taylor pay Steve Setser, the owner of the Drive-In, for the advertising? Taylor listed Setser on his Campaign Contribution Disclosure, but in the space where a candidate has to give the amount of the contribution, Taylor wrote “Setser“ but would not give a price or “no charge” (You can legally donate goods or services to a candidate {In-Kind} but the candidate must describe the donation and place a value on their campaign disclosure). In-Kind contribution values must comply with campaign finance laws. Setser is required to place a value on his contribution. Steve Setser also donated $463 for T-Shirts and $300 for flyers to the Taylor campaign.

Jack Taylor Swan

Now, that brings us to Johnny Scearce. Scearce is currently the Blue Ridge City Police Chief. Scearce has run for Fannin County Sheriff several times and is used to filling out a “Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report”. One would assume that Scearce would understand he has to list everyone who contributes to his campaign and show all outlets where he has spent money.  According to Scearce’s Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report filed on 6/30, he showed $0 left in his campaign account.

Johnny Scearce Republican Candidate for Sheriff placed ads in issues of the Fannin Focus on 3/17, 3/31, 4/7, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28, 5/5, 5/12 and 5/19. According to the Fannin Focus advertising rate sheet, the number of ads and size of ads Scearce placed should have cost $4,946.89 in advertising with the Fannin Focus. According to Scearce’s Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report he spent $0 in advertising with the Fannin Focus.

johnny brenda 3johnny full page 3

Scearce hired  Kendell Goss as Campaign Marketing Manager. Scearce paid Goss $3,369.00 and listed it as advertising. Sources tell FYN, Goss handled the campaign website, prepared speeches, and campaign video along with other marketing materials.

Let’s just suppose Goss used some of the money to place ads in the Fannin Focus…it still would have to be disclosed! Scearce disclosed that he spent money directly three times with The News Observer and once with WPPI – FM so why wouldn’t he disclose any money paid to the Fannin Focus or place the ad directly himself?

There is no disclosure on who paid for the ads. We could not find one Johnny Scearce or Larry Bennett ad in the Fannin Focus that discloses “Paid for By.” One could understand if the publisher missed one ad but it seems he missed them all! Why not show who is paying for the campaign ads, it’s a campaign finance rule?

Sheriff Dane Kirby spent $0 with the Fannin Focus and placed no ads in its paper.

The publisher of the Fannin Focus is Mark Thomason. If Thomason decided to give the advertising to the candidates for free, the Fannin Focus would still have to be listed on the candidates campaign finance reports with an “In-Kind” amount. If an “In-Kind” was the desired result to benefit the above listed candidates by Thomason, the amounts have far exceeded the campaign contribution limits.

Some questions…Did Mark Thomason extend $13,460.30 of free advertising to three Fannin County Sheriff candidates? Why just the Sheriff candidates? Could they have been in cahoots (colluding or conspiring together secretly)? Wonder how the other candidates who paid for their ads must feel? Wonder what the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission will think?

Click to read campaign finance reports.

Johnny Scearce 6302016

Jack Taylor 6302016

Larry Bennett 6302016

 

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Related story: Fannin Focus Mark Thomason Arrested, Journalist or Vendetta

 

 

 

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