The Jolt: Cobb County to pass on mailing out ballot applications for November vote

Mail-in paper ballots wait to be scanned by Fulton County employees at the Georgia World Congress Center during the Georgia primary on June 9. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The Cobb County Commission intends to pass on a funding request from the county board of elections to mail ballot applications to all registered voters in the run-up to the Nov. 3 general election, according to today’s Marietta Daily Journal.

The newspaper quotes Bob Ott, one of four Republicans on the five-member commission, as saying the decision was made by Chairman Mike Boyce during a planning session leading up to next Monday’s commission meeting.

“There were three hard no votes, so he pulled it from the agenda,” Ott told the MDJ. The mailings would have run in the neighborhood of $250,000. Ott, one of those hard no’s, isn’t running for re-election in November.

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Wanted: Young, uninfected, tech-savvy bodies to work Georgia polling stations on Nov. 3. Pay is so-so, but you’ll be at the center of the biggest story of the day – or month, if the counting goes on and on and on.

Our AJC colleague Mark Niesse tells of a new website set up by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to help counties replace older poll workers who have dropped out over coronavirus concerns.

But that’s hardly the only recruiting station.

Dominion Voting Systems, maker of Georgia’s new voting machines, advertised for field support technicians at $18 an hour for three days of work leading up to Tuesday’s primary runoffs. The short-term assignments were aimed at polling sites in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Chatham counties.

Presumably, a larger effort will be made prior to the November general election.

The ACLU of Georgia has its own poll worker recruitment program. From the website:

Georgia is particularly in need of poll workers who are:

-- younger Georgians who are at lower risk of COVID-19 complications

-- lawyers committed to understanding the ins and outs of election law and administration; or

-- tech-savvy to help keep the electronic voter machines up and running.

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A fresh poll indicates that Democratic challenger Fani Willis holds a commanding lead over incumbent Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, her former boss, heading into Tuesday’s runoff, according to our AJC colleague Bill Rankin:

Willis attracted 47.1% of the would-be votes, while Howard collected 30.8%, a WSB Channel 2 Action News/Landmark Communications poll conducted over the weekend of 500 likely voters found.

…In the poll, Willis dominated Howard among would-be white voters, with a 62.6% to 17.6% edge. Howard held a slight advantage among Black voters, with 39.8% to Willis’ 37.8%.

Howard also held a slight lead (37.7% to 35.7%) among voters in south Fulton, while Willis attracted 60.7% of the voters in north Fulton, compared to Howard’s 11.3%, the poll found. Willis also held strong leads among both male and female voters.

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It’s about to get really difficult to avoid Joe Biden in Georgia. The Democrat’s presidential campaign is set to launch a first wave of general election TV spots here, part of a $220 million ad buy across 15 states.

CBS News reported today that the campaign will spend another $60 million on digital ads to reach audiences on social media or gaming platforms.

The new ads will feature the Democrat speaking directly to camera about the response to the pandemic and the economic fallout of the crisis, CBS reports.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump’s campaign let loose it’s own volley of ads in Georgia, a state that Republicans have rarely had to defend. It was part of a fleet of defensive ads in four states the president carried in 2016, but is in danger of losing this cycle.

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U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., has signed onto legislation pitched by GOP colleague Tom Cotton of Arkansas that would allow Attorney General Bill Barr to punish states, cities and other local entities that don’t take a hard line against protestors who cross the line. From the press release:

The Holding Rioters Accountable Act of 2020 would grant authority to the U.S. Attorney General to reduce certain U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) grants and funding to jurisdictions where state and local prosecutors are abusing prosecutorial discretion and failing to prosecute crimes arising from riots and other violent protests…

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And the quote from Loeffler:

“In many cases, local officials and prosecutors have turned a blind eye and allowed the chaos to continue. In Portland, a local prosecutor dismissed charges on 59 individuals connected to the riots, including nine cases involving felony charges such as arson and theft. Protesters across the country have thrown rocks through store windows, set fire to construction sites and spray-painted buildings. This cannot stand.”

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This comes after last week’s interview with Jack Posobiec of OAN News, a journalist with links to the alt-right movement, in which Loeffler endorsed the insertion of federal forces into cities where protests over racial injustice have produced incidents of violence.

“The surge in federal agents, Operation Legend, is very much needed right now, across the country – Atlanta included,” Loeffler said.

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Mixing it up: Supporters of Republican U.S. Senate rivals Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins received emails this week purporting to be from President Donald Trump.

“Support conservative fighter Doug Collins,” said one, featuring a picture of the president and the four-term congressman.

“You want results! That’s what you’re getting with your Senator, Kelly Loeffler,” read the other, which closes with a mugshot of the president.

Both have been warring for Trump’s support since Gov. Brian Kemp selected Loeffler for the coveted spot. And though the president urged Kemp to pick Collins, he’s so far stayed on the sidelines.

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WNBA players aren’t just paying quiet attention to U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign against the athletes’ “Black Lives Matter” protests. They’re angry enough about it to openly endorse Loeffler’s highest-profile Democratic opponent in the November special election, the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Official Twitter accounts for the Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky all posted photos of players sporting “Vote Warnock” shirts on Tuesday night.

The shirts were even worn by members of the Atlanta Dream, of which Loeffler is a part owner. She released a statement last night saying the protest of her counter-protest — a counter-counter-protest? — is an example of “cancel culture.” Or maybe a cancel-cancel culture.

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Andy Miller of Georgia Health News reports that “budget cuts due to the COVID-19 economic crisis have led the state’s mental health agency to lay off 200 employees.”

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U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop’s membership, green fees and meals at two exclusive golf courses were paid for with campaign funds, a recent U.S. House investigation has concluded. The same campaign committee also paid for virtually all the gas that Bishop and his wife put into their vehicles, the report said.

A separate taxpayer-funded account paid for holiday parties for Bishop’s staff over four years, investigators with the House ethics committee found. The committee has yet to determine whether the spending violated any House rules or campaign spending laws.

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Former congresswoman Karen Handel is within hailing distance of Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath in their head-to-head re-match, according to a new poll that both McBath’s campaign and the National Republican Campaign Committee are talking up.

The poll puts the pair in a statistical tie, with McBath (48%) leading Handel (46%). The survey was conducted last week, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. One of several caveats: The poll tapped 400 registered voters in the Sixth District -- not likely voters.

The NRCC polling memo also provided no demographic breakdown, by either race or gender. But only 27% of those surveyed thought the country was on the right track, down from 45% in March.

Neither did the poll offer any findings about Sixth District attitudes toward incumbent Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden in the presidential contest.

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In endorsement news: The Congressional Black Caucus PAC has endorsed Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the general election contest for the Seventh District congressional seat.

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On Monday, in an “Axios on HBO” interview, President Donald Trump didn’t have much to say about the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, except to note that the congressman had boycotted his 2017 inauguration.

In a Tuesday interview on CNN, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms expressed her disgust with Trump’s comments. She also described the president as “a narcissist” and “delusional.”

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Synovus has announced it will make a $1 million contribution to the UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, for the establishment of a scholarship in the name of state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.

Smyre was elected in 1974 and, as a 46-year veteran, is the longest-serving member of the General Assembly. Smyre’s legislative record includes authoring the bill making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s birthday a state holiday, co-sponsoring to remove the 1956 state flag, crafting legislation to authorize the HOPE Scholarship Program, and co-sponsoring House Bill 426, the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, which was recently signed into law.

Smyre joined Synovus in 1976 and retired in 2014 as executive vice president of corporate affairs.

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