Stephen Fowler

Reporter

Stephen Fowler is an award-winning reporter and photographer for GPB News covering state and local politics. His work focuses on voting and elections, state government and policy and legal issues.

He got his start with GPB's All Things Considered in Atlanta, where he helped create live shows everywhere from a brewery to a baseball game to a rooftop midway, was part of award-winning hurricane coverage and (occasionally) filled in as the afternoon news host. In college, he served as the Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel and was part of the inaugural cohort of the Georgia News Lab, a yearlong investigative journalism program.

His reporting takes him many places, like the collapsed rubble of I-85, fishing in the Flint River and protests in the streets of Atlanta. His stories have appeared on Marketplace, Here and Now, All Things Considered and NPR’s national newscasts, as well as ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Two weeks after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio left 31 dead, a longstanding fundraiser at a gun range outside of Atlanta drew criticism – and record crowds.

At the 11th District Republican Party’s fifth annual marksmanship and barbecue event, conversation centered on the feeling that responsible, law-abiding gun owners were getting a bad rap when it comes to talking about gun control.


Georgia Secretary of State's OFfice

The secretary of state's office is reviewing a petition signed by more than 1,400 people asking for another, deeper look at the state's new voting system. 

The petition, delivered Monday morning, alleges several issues with the state's certification process of the Dominion Voting System, which includes ballot-marking devices, precinct-level scanners, electronic poll books and the election management system.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the machines Aug. 9 after a third-party company tested the equipment "against the requirements set forth for voting systems by the Election Assistance Commission 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and the State of Georgia."

Mike Stewart / AP

Federal Judge Amy Totenberg has ruled Georgia will use its outdated voting machines for one more election.  Then, it’s time for a change. 

Georgia is currently one of five states that relies on electronic voting machines, but officials are currently working to implement a new $107 million ballot-marking device system that includes touchscreen machines with a printed paper ballot component.

A lawsuit filed in 2017 says the current touchscreen direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting system is outdated, flawed, and insecure. The ultimate goal of the legal challenge is to move Georgia to hand-marked paper ballots, though Totenberg has denied that request for the last two years.


Andrew Harnik / AP

One day after a ruling was issued that requires Georgia to ditch its outdated touchscreen voting machines in 2020, a group of voters asked a federal judge to block the state from replacing it with a new $107 million ballot-marking device system.

Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to move to a paper ballot-based voting system after this fall’s municipal elections and to pilot hand-marked paper ballot voting in some elections this fall.

The new system selected by the secretary of state’s office satisfies that first order, as Dominion Voting Systems’ Image Cast X BMD combines a touchscreen tablet with a printer to produce a paper-based summary of a voter’s selection with a QR code that is then scanned and stored.

A federal judge has denied a request to move all of this fall's municipal elections in Georgia away from "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated technology" and toward hand-marked paper ballots that are optically scanned and counted.

Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge has denied a request to move all of this fall’s municipal elections in Georgia away from “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated technology” and toward hand-marked paper ballots that are optically scanned and counted.

The order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg Thursday also requires the state to cease using its direct-recording electronic voting machines after 2019 and expresses doubts about the state’s ability to roll out its new ballot-marking device system in time for the March 24, 2020, presidential primary election.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce

A strong economy locally and nationally was the central focus of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual congressional luncheon in Macon.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao spoke of streamlined regulations, a focus on rural America and the combination of what she called "pro-growth policies and investments with American ingenuity and initiative" that has boosted the economy, while U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) touched on ways Georgia's economy could serve as a model across the country.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A coalition of groups under the moniker of “Hate Free Georgia” is renewing calls for Georgia to pass a hate crimes bill when the legislature returns in January. 

At a press conference Friday, speakers from the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others urged the state Senate to pass House Bill 426 in next year’s session.

Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law.


Rebecca Hammel / U.S. Senate Photographic Studio

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue says he has concerns about “red flag” gun laws that would give judges authority to temporarily remove a person’s guns if they are considered dangerous to themselves or others.

Speaking to a group of reporters in his Atlanta office during a wide-ranging interview, he said he could not comment on any specifics until a bill has been drafted.

There’s a new report from the federal government that has some surprising data about last fall’s election.

According to the latest Election Administration and Voting Survey, Georgia led the nation in automated voter registration and accepted a higher percentage of absentee and provisional ballots than previous years.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office says that’s proof that voter suppression does not exist in Georgia, but those numbers are only part of the story.

Political reporter Stephen Fowler joined GPB’s Rickey Bevington in the studio to explain.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Georgians should have faith in the newly-announced voting machines coming for next year’s elections.

On Monday, Raffensperger announced the selection of Dominion Voting Systems as the state’s next voting machine vendor, with a $106 million price tag.

Georgia’s outdated touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines will be replaced by ballot-marking devices. Direct-recording electronic machines cast each vote on a memory card. But the BMDs print out a paper ballot with a summary of the voter’s selection plus a QR code that is then scanned and stored.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Lawsuits over election integrity and legislative decisions about voting machines have been ongoing stories since before the presidential elections in 2016. There are surges and retreats of headlines about both, but it can be hard to track.


Andrew Harnik / AP

Georgia has awarded a massive contract to replace its outdated touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines to a new company offering ballot-marking devices with a paper component.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that Dominion Voting Systems will be the state's new vendor for elections, ditching current vendor Elections Systems & Software. 

Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge who said Georgia officials allowed its election system to “grow way too old and archaic” will soon decide if hundreds of county and municipal elections in 2019 must be conducted on hand-marked paper ballots.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A coalition of groups in opposition to the state's tighter abortion law have filed a motion to block it from taking effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights requested a preliminary injunction Tuesday in federal court. 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

What do you get when you take a strip mall in a north Atlanta suburb, add a real estate developer with over a quarter-million pieces of computing and technology history and sprinkle in a region brimming with tech talent and company headquarters?

As you drive past the Big Lots and Shoe Gallery at Roswell Town Center and park around back, tucked between the outdoor mini golf and indoor laser tag, you'll see there is no punchline, just the newly-opened Computer Museum of America.

For now, it's more than 44,000 square feet dedicated to tech big and small, from the earliest microcomputers to the innovation that took us to the moon. But founder Lonnie Mimms and the CMoA team envision a world in the near future where the museum is an anchor for a revolution of sorts that unites the region's colleges, corporations and community to capitalize on technology's role in our society.


Department of Community Health handout

A newly-released survey detailing Georgia's health care landscape is the latest step in Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to expand access to some of the estimated 1.5 million residents who don't have health insurance.

The Georgia Environment Scan Report combines demographic, business, employment and health-related data to help inform consultants hired under the Patients First Act craft potential waivers to the state's Medicaid and Affordable Care Act plans. 

Isakson Website

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is in the hospital after falling in his D.C. apartment, according to a statement from his office. 

The 74-year-old suffered four fractured ribs Tuesday night, according to Amanda Maddox, his communications director.

Google Images

The Georgia Public Service Commission has approved the latest three-year plan for Georgia Power's energy mix. The Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP, was discussed Tuesday morning.

The utility giant will add 2,210 megawatts of renewable power procurement, the largest increase in Georgia's history. Most of that amount will be in large-scale solar power. By the end of the year, the state could have about 2,400 megawatts of renewable energy, so the newly-stipulated increase would nearly double its renewable energy capacity by the end of the three-year IRP.

Consuming political news is like drinking from a firehose. Each day presents a new tweet, a new storyline and a new debate to process. It can be exhausting, and often national conversations obscure important topics like Americans’ fundamental right to vote. 

On Second Thought wants to shift the paradigm, so GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler is presenting listeners with a segment called “Slow Democracy.” Like the slow food movement, it looks at the sources, alterations and underpinnings of participatory democracy.


Stephen Fowler / Georgia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Brian Kemp has nominated a veteran lawyer to serve as the judge on a new court designed to handle complex business matters. 

Walt Davis, a partner at Atlanta firm Jones Day, has been tapped to head up the new statewide business court. Georgia voters approved the court last November and the legislature codified it with bipartisan support.  

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

The millennial mayor of one of Georgia’s most diverse cities is promising to “bring courage back to Washington” if elected to the U.S. Senate.

Associated Press

The 2018 election for governor between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams may be over, but second quarter fundraising numbers show healthy war chests for parts of their political futures.

Kemp raised more than $726,000 from April to June and is sitting on more than $1.2 million just a few months into his term as governor. He raised close to $21 million in the race against Abrams, and this quarter's haul will go towards a potential rematch in 2022.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

From the whirr of an espresso machine to the hum of the lights to the soca music playing on the speakers, Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop has dozens of examples of Georgia’s energy mix at work.

It’s not like there are signs saying “Coffee maker powered by solar panels!” or “Lamps brought to you by the Chattahoochee River,” but utility providers like Georgia Power, electric membership cooperatives and city-run power companies do bring you electricity using a variety of sources.


(L) Georgia State Senate/ (R) ShaferforGeorgia.com

The state legislature may be in its post-session off season, but the political landscape in Georgia is far from quiet.

While the 2020 elections are over a year away, political parties are hard at work on strategies to reach Georgians who did not vote last year and maintain the energy of those who did.

Democratic Party of Georgia chair Sen. Nikema Williams and Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer sat down with GPB News to discuss their plans to emerge victorious next November.

GPB political reporter Stephen Fowler sat down with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott to share what that means for Georgia voters in the coming months.

    

David Shafer

Newly-elected Republican Party of Georgia Chairman David Shafer has a big task ahead of him in the leadup to the 2020 election.

The governor’s mansion, every statewide elected office, state legislative leadership and both U.S. Senate seats are held by Republicans.

But last fall, Democrats gained several suburban seats in the legislature and Stacey Abrams garnered more votes than any other Democrat who ran for statewide office, narrowly losing to Gov. Brian Kemp.

David Shafer sat down in the GPB studios to share his vision for the party in the coming years.


(L) Georgia State Senate/ (R) ShaferforGeorgia.com

We are halfway through the year and it has been a busy one in Georgia politics. 

 

So far, many political issues have been highlighted, including a controversial abortion bill, new voting machines and multiple visits from presidential candidates.

 

GPB's Stephen Fowler sat down with Morning Edition host Leah Fleming to recap all the action as we enter the second half of 2019.

 

 


Elaine Thompson / AP

The first day of July marks the beginning of the new fiscal year and when many laws take effect.

We are midway through a whirlwind 2019 that has been full of political news, ranging from the nationwide conversation on abortion and reproductive rights to electoral integrity to numerous visits from the two dozen or so candidates running for president.

July 1 is when the record-setting $27.5 billion state operating budget kicks in, complete with money for a new voting system and pay raises for teachers, school staff and state employees.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A new lawsuit claims Georgia's abortion law, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The 36-page suit, Sistersong v. Kemp, argues that the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act "criminalizes pre-viability abortions in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade," which establishes a woman's right to an abortion until about 24 weeks into pregnancy. 


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