GPB 2020

2020 will be an important year in Georgia politics with a presidential race, two U.S. Senate seats and local legislative races on the ballot. The GPB News team will have you covered every step of the way, from new voting machines to the presidential debate in Atlanta to the issues that matter to people across the state.  

GPB

Georgia Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) has doubled down on his run for a U.S. Senate special election against fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, even as President Donald Trump floated his name as the potential permanent director of national intelligence.

The president told reporters Thursday aboard Air Force One that he was considering Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, as a candidate to head the nation’s intelligence community. Trump named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell acting Director of National Intelligence Thursday and said he would seek a permanent replacement in the next few weeks.

But, hours before Trump’s remarks, Collins told GPB’s Political Rewind he would not leave the race for any sort of presidential posting.


Ed Tarver

Ed Tarver, the first African American U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia and former state lawmaker, has officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate for the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

In a campaign video, Tarver touted his work "for all Georgians without regard to racial, religious, or cultural differences" while also targeting disparities and inequalities in the criminal justice system.


Voter casts ballot in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
John Bazemore / AP

This fall, millions of Georgians will make their choices for president, U.S. House and Senate and their state lawmakers – and millions more will stay home.

A new study from the Knight Foundation sought to answer why, and found that non-voters are less likely to trust the electoral process, less likely to engage with the news and less likely to have strong partisan opinions on political issues. The average non-voter is also more likely to have lower income and education levels than people who do vote. 


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

At the state’s election warehouse northwest of Atlanta Friday morning, a buzzing hive of workers loaded trucks with boxes of voting equipment, some of the final shipments to Georgia counties ahead of the March presidential primary.

Since December, the secretary of state’s office has delivered more than 200,000 pieces of equipment to the state’s 159 counties, ranging from touchscreen ballot-marking devices to printers used to create paper ballots to the scanners that will tabulate the voter’s choices.


Stephen Fowler / GPB News

As election workers across the state begin final preparations for the new ballot-marking device system being used for the March 24 presidential primary election, Fulton County officials say early voting will be a key factor in preventing long lines.

Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron said Wednesday the county will receive the final shipments of its ballot-marking devices by the end of this week and begin logic and accuracy testing on Monday.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is launching an expanded partnership with The King Center to bring demonstrations of the state’s new $104 million voting system to more than 100 congregations across the state this year.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections has begun testing components of Georgia’s new $104 million ballot-marking device voting system that will be used in less than a month for the presidential primary election.

Logic and accuracy testing began Tuesday morning for the system that includes BMDs, printers, polling place scanners and a central scanner that will process absentee ballots cast prior to Election Day.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

About 10,000 Georgians individually gave nearly $3 million to Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns from October to December last year, giving an updated look at support from across the state ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, more than half of that went to President Donald Trump, who raked in more than $1.6 million from 5,096 Georgians that donated directly to the campaign or to an authorized committee. About a third of the contributions came from Georgians who listed "retired" as their occupation. During 2019, Trump picked up more than $3 million from the state as he looks to win a second term this November.


GPB News

Candidates for a pair of U.S. Senate seats and several competitive U.S. House races raked in millions of dollars in campaign contributions in the last quarter of 2019, setting the stage for an expensive election year with national implications.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) has nearly $8 million in his campaign account, reporting more than $1.8 million in receipts on his most recent federal filing. On the Democratic side of the race, investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff paced his rivals with a $1 million fundraising haul, starting 2020 with $1.5 million in the bank. 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The senior pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta on Thursday entered the race for a U.S. Senate special election, hoping to capitalize on a politically and demographically shifting Georgia and unite Democrats heading into November.  

The Rev. Raphael Warnock released a campaign video that positions him as perennially preparing to be ready for what was next, whether it was family, his education or his work at Ebenezer Baptist Church. 

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Elections officials in three southwest Georgia counties reported no issues with the state’s new touchscreen ballot-marking device system during early voting, but poll watchers and staff noted issues with several parts of the process on Election Day.

The $104 million BMD system includes a poll pad that checks voters in, a touchscreen computer to make selections, a printer that creates a paper ballot with a text summary of choices plus a QR code and a scanner that tabulates votes and stores the paper.


Rep. Doug Collins (R-9) joins Political Rewind to talk through the current issues on Capitol Hill and his work as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committe.
GPB

Georgia Congressman Doug Collins has officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate, opening a rift in the Republican party that adds another layer of intrigue to an already contentious 2020 election cycle in Georgia.

Speaking on “Fox and Friends” from Atlanta, the Gainesville Republican said that it was time to take his message to a bigger stage.

“Well I think what we’ve done is proven what we can do in the House and take this message to the entire state of Georgia,” he said. “Georgia is a state that is a wonderful state that’s growing and has a lot of new ideas and new people coming in – they need to see the conservative values that actually believe in people.”

Georgia Secretary of State's Office

Elections officials participating in a state House special election in southwest Georgia say there have been no problems during the early voting period with the new ballot-marking device election system that prints out a paper ballot.

Tuesday is Election Day for voters in House District 171, which covers part of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties, and early voting is underway for Senate District 13, covering eight counties.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) is taking steps to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), setting up a contentious campaign to earn Republican votes in a wide-open contest Democrats are hoping to flip.

Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of President Trump, has been informing supporters of his decision in recent days and has no official announcement date planned yet.

He spoke on the Georgia House floor Tuesday to honor the late Rules Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla) who died late last year. Afterward, he said nothing to reporters about his aspirations except more information would come soon.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A bill intended to codify the secretary of state’s authority to set qualifying dates for special elections has turned into a proxy battle over Gov. Brian Kemp’s choice for U.S. Senate.

A substitute to HB 757 passed the elections subcommittee of the governmental affairs committee Monday afternoon on an 8-2 vote.

The original language of the bill, authored by House Judiciary Chairman Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), codified a longstanding policy that gave the state’s top election official the latitude to schedule the two-and-a-half day period that candidates for a special election must qualify to appear on the ballot.

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry is ending his bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate to face David Perdue, announcing instead he will run for a vacant seat on the DeKalb County Commission.

Terry, who hoped his status as the progressive millennial mayor of the tiny town in DeKalb would propel him ahead of three Democratic rivals, said in an interview Sunday he would be stepping down as mayor in March to run for the DeKalb Super District 6 seat. Current Commissioner Kathie Gannon recently announced she would retire at the end of her term later this year. 

Governor's Office of Planning and Budget

Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest budget proposal would increase state spending to $28.1 billion for the next fiscal year, largely driven by increases in formula-based funding for education and health care plus a pay raise for public school teachers. 

The proposal comes as many other state agencies have been asked to cut back.

The governor’s budget report released Thursday kicks off the next phase of budget discussions at the state Capitol, where lawmakers have been greeted with the news of tepid tax collections as the larger economy continues to grow.

The amended budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30, has been revised down slightly from $27.5 billion to $27.4 billion as the governor’s office projects only a slight growth in the amount of money collected from taxes and fees.

John Bazemore / AP

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told lawmakers during his State of the State address Thursday that his budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes an additional $2,000 pay raise for teachers and school employees, completing a campaign promise to boost teacher pay and adding another layer of complication to a tight budget discussion.

In his second annual address to lawmakers, Kemp also said the General Assembly should continue to fully fund the state’s education formula.

“Let’s fully fund public school education for the third year in a row, accounting for growth and resources needed to properly educate,” he said.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Standing at the edge of a DeKalb County loading dock, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined several reporters and elections staff as a nondescript white truck slowly backed up to unload its cargo.

The truck was loaded with battery backups that will help power 2,839 ballot-marking devices used by DeKalb voters in future elections. It was the first of many shipments arriving that day.

While the holiday season has made coordinating deliveries to local officials tricky, Raffensperger said that more than 25,000 of the 33,100 BMDs are tested and in the state’s control and 32 of Georgia’s 159 counties have received nearly all of their new voting machines and accessories.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

A federal judge says he does not have the jurisdiction to order the state to add back about 98,000 voter registrations that were moved to canceled status last week but expressed "serious concern" about the issue raised in the complaint.

In a 32-page ruling, Judge Steve Jones denied the request brought by voting rights group Fair Fight Action that sought to reinstate registrations canceled after voters did not respond to communications from elections officials after about seven years of not voting.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

2019 has been a consequential year across Georgia’s political landscape, from the inauguration of a new governor to fierce debates over voting and reproductive rights to national attention over the state’s potential to flip from Republican to Democrat.

GPB political reporter Stephen Fowler sat down with All Things Considered host Rickey Bevington to recap some of the biggest moments.


GPB

2020 is shaping up to be a busy year for Georgia politics.

The economy is doing well, but the state government is making some significant budget cuts.


John Bazemore/AP

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is adding 22,000 previously-canceled voter registrations back to the “inactive” voter list ahead of a scheduled federal court hearing over the issue Thursday.

In a press release, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the registrations belong to Georgians who last had contact with elections officials between January and May of 2012.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Just under 4,500 Georgia voters acted to keep their voter registrations from being purged this week, a small percentage of more than 313,000 registrations set to be canceled for inactivity and failure to respond to election officials.

308,753 registrations were moved from “inactive” to “canceled” status Monday night as part of federally-required voter list maintenance, according to an updated list from the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge has ruled that Georgia can move forward with a planned purge of more than 300,000 inactive voter registrations Monday night.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to determine whether some of those registrations must be reinstated to the inactive voter list.

At issue is a provision of Georgia law that removes voters from the rolls for not voting or having any contact with elections officials, often known as no-contact or “use it or lose it.” 


justgrimes / Flickr

Monday on Political Rewind, voting issues are in the news again. An investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates the farther people have to travel to get to their polling place the less likely it is they will vote.

Our panelists look at the pattern and ask if politics are at play in closing numerous precinct locations around the state.

 

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

Sara Tindall Ghazal

A longtime voting rights advocate and former voter protection director for the Democratic Party of Georgia is challenging a Republican incumbent from Cobb County in the state House.

Sara Tindall Ghazal announced she is running for House District 45, which covers parts of East Cobb and Sandy Springs. The seat has been held by Republican Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), who was first sworn in in 2003.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

A federal judge says Gov. Brian Kemp must answer some questions about his time as Georgia's top elections official as part of a wide-ranging lawsuit challenging how elections are administered.

U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled last week that the governor will need to answer two hours' worth of questions about comments he made about increasing minority voter turnout and his actions as chair of the State Election Board.


Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Today on Political Rewind, the senior-most Republican in Georgia’s congressional delegation announces he will not seek re-election. Why has Rep. Tom Graves joined the GOP exodus from Congress? 


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