Georgia Democrats filed a new legal challenge contending that some counties waited until this week to send out absentee ballots for the Dec. 4 runoff, resulting in “arbitrary and disparate treatment” of voters.
The federal lawsuit asks a judge to require Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to order counties to treat absentee mail-in ballots like those sent by military voters, which means they would have to count ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within three days after the election.
It’s the latest in an ongoing legal battle over voting rights waged by the Democratic Party of Georgia, voting rights groups and Stacey Abrams’ new advocacy organization.
Crittenden’s office said it worked as quickly as possible to prepare the ballots and said any notion otherwise is “completely false.”
According to the complaint, 44 counties didn’t mail their first absentee ballots until Monday and another 21 counties waited a day later. With mail delivery taking three to four days to reach voters in some parts of the state, the lawsuit said, the delay will risk disenfranchising voters.
The lawsuit could affect a large bloc of voters in the runoff, which will decide the secretary of state’s race and a Public Service Commission seat. At least 121,000 voters have submitted an application for absentee mail-in ballots in the runoff election.
In a statement, Crittenden spokeswoman Candice Broce said the office asked all counties to approve their ballots by Nov. 19 but that smaller counties often need more time because they don’t have on-site printing capabilities.
She also noted that a federal court ruling that delayed the certification of the vote until Nov. 16, which pushed back the timeline for absentee ballots.
:We told the Democratic Party when they initially sought to delay certification that doing so would adversely impact run-off procedures. Now, they have gone to federal court to ask a judge to intervene,” said Broce.
“If they had come to us first, we would have tried to work with them to resolve this problem. We immediately engaged in those discussions when this lawsuit was filed.”
We’ll call it one for two.
While Gainesville Congressman Doug Collins won his bid to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, his GOP colleague Tom Graves fell short of his goal to lead the party on House Appropriations.
A former state legislator who has served in Congress since 2010, Graves had pitched himself as a disruptor who would stand up for Trump and conservative interests during secretive government spending negotiations. But he faced off against a trio of more senior opponents. A Republican committee instead recommended Texan Kay Granger for the position.
House Democrats have yet to announce their committee leaders, but Georgians John Lewis, David Scott, Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson are all expected to chair various House subcommittees.
“We were gamed here.”
That was the takeaway from Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue after a special bipartisan committee tasked with overhauling the budget process came up empty handed on Thursday. The bicameral panel rejected its own modest set of changes.
The failed vote follows months of amicable work toward a bipartisan deal. In recent weeks, however, partisan feuding divided the group as members from each side of the aisle began accusing the other party's leaders of dooming approval in the Senate.
“We got gamed here,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who, at one point, banged his fist on the table as he bemoaned the panel’s failure. “By leadership — House, Senate, Republican, Democrat.”
Perdue, a harsh critic of Capitol Hill’s glitchy budget process, voted against the panel’s recommendations, which he said were too modest.
Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, another member of the panel, voted for them.
"If we can't move forward with modest steps, I don't know what encouragement we give to the next Congress to take even bolder” moves, Woodall said.
David Perdue and fellow Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson are dialing up the pressure on Senate colleagues to clear emergency federal funding for Hurricane Michael recovery in the days ahead.
The duo penned a letter Thursday to senior members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging them to help cover the more than $2.5 billion in damages the October storm is estimated to have inflicted on Georgia agriculture.
Georgia lawmakers want Congress to approve the money before the end of the year to allow time for the dollars to filter down to farmers before they seek bank loans and begin planting in early 2019.
“Due to the severity and timing of the losses, additional assistance is needed to allow producers to recover a portion of expenses associated with the 2018 crop and secure production financing for the 2019 crop,” the duo wrote.
We told you earlier this week about Stacey Abrams’ opposition to a North Carolina federal judicial pick based on his civil rights record. Thomas Farr’s bid for a lifetime position on a U.S. district court ended up being dashed Thursday after South Carolina Republican Tim Scott vowed to vote against his nomination.
Abrams and other opponents had highlighted Farr’s past defending North Carolina’s congressional districts -- later deemed racially gerrymandered by a federal court -- as well as a contentious voter ID law.
Republican leaders had argued that criticism against Farr was overblown, and both Isakson and Perdue voted in favor of advancing his nomination on Wednesday.
They’re calling it a friendly wager: Georgia Chick-fil-A for some Alabama seafood.
That’s what U.S. Reps. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., and Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., are betting to make this weekend’s SEC championship game between Georgia and Alabama a little more interesting.
“I am confident this will be the year the student becomes the master and Kirby Smart leads the Dawgs to victory over Nick Saban and the Alabama team,” Ferguson said.
Your insider is making a tamer bet: My house may be adorned by an Alabama flag if Georgia loses. But if the team wins, a hapless neighbor’s lawn will be graced by a giant inflatable bulldog.
Goooooooo Dawgs …..
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