Blue Ridge, Ga. – Congressman Doug Collins stopped in Blue Ridge on his campaign tour in the race for U.S. Senate. With him were special guests Georgia State Speaker of the House David Ralston and former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump, George Papadopoulos.
Collins spoke briefly on his record as U.S. Congressman, highlighting his conservative values and his reputation for representing the people of the 9th District.
Collins has stood up to multiple government agencies and individuals during his career, most notably holding the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and James Comey accountable.
Collins was also a visible ally to President Donald Trump during the U.S. House of Representatives Impeachment Hearings.
Now, Collins wants to take this same momentum and move it to the U.S. Senate.
With the U.S. Senate seat open to a Jungle Primary on the Nov. 3 ballot, Collins wants to set the record straight on what is and isn’t true about himself and his biggest Republican rival, Senator Kelly Loeffler.
According to Collins, Loeffler’s attacks on him are unfounded and in many cases an attempt at deflection about her true nature and intent.
Collins specifically sited Loeffler’s pro-life stance that seems to not have been her view a mere two years ago when she worked with Planned Parenthood to have a booth set up at a basketball game where monies raised would be split with the organization.
“I am the one who is actually concerned about life,” Collins said pointing to decisions his family has made in their personal life that reflect these values.
Loeffler also made claims that Collins was not Pro-Second Amendment and that as a lawyer Collins represented criminals.
Collins assured the crowd, having grown up the son of a trooper neither of these claims could be further from the truth.
“She doesn’t want you to know that she worked with Michael Bloomberg,” Collins said of Loeffler’s Second Amendment claims and her own personal work on a gun control agenda.
In his career as a lawyer, Collins took indigent clients, none of which were pictured in Loeffler’s ad. Collins stated, “Doug Collins defender of criminals? No, Doug Collins did his constitutional duty taking indigent clients.”
Loeffeler has also released ads containing a picture of Collins with former Georgia House Representative Stacey Abrams.
Abrams made waves as the Democratic nominee for Georgia Governor in 2018, known for her liberal stances.
Collins explained the photo, “This was after we saved the HOPE scholarship. Stacey joined us on a conservative idea and voted for it because she understood that people needed that money.”
According to Collins, Loeffler actually employed Abrams as an attorney for a basketball team and in 2018 Loeffler honored Abrams as a woman of distinction while “Abrams for Governor” signs were in the background of the photo-op.
Lastly, Collins pointed out that Loeffler makes her decisions based on her own self-interest and money.
“She claims to be tough on China,” Collins said and added, “Take the ten state owned companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, owned by the Chinese Communist Party, and delist them.”
Jeffrey Sprecher, Leoffler’s husband, is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, and the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
Collins said of his suggestion to delist the Chinese companies, that it will never happen because Loeffler will choose her pocketbook and their pocketbook over policy everyday.
“I may not have $35 million, but I’ve got all I need because I’ve got you and I’ve got the voters of Georgia and they understand who the real conservative is in this race,” Collins said referencing the amount the Loeffler has spent on her Senate campaign, “Georgia can’t be bought.”
Written and submitted by: Gilmer GOP – Reece Sanford
On November 3 rd , 2020, Americans will go to the polls to vote for the President of the United States.
Election Day is an event that has occurred every four years in our nation since the first Presidential
election in the winter of 1788-1789. Through world wars, pandemics, civil unrest, recessions,
depressions, and even the Civil War, Americans have gone to the polls every four years to elect a
national leader. After so many elections, it might be easy to view this event as routine as the changing of
the seasons. However, we should not take the right to vote for granted. Our Founding Fathers revolted
over “taxation without representation.” They understood the importance of having influence over those
who governed them. Throughout time and history, millions, perhaps billions, of people have not had a
say in their government. But in America, every citizen regardless of gender, race, religion, education, or
income has a right to select their representatives. This right should not be taken lightly. As the human
rights activist Loung Ung once said, “Voting is not only our right – it is our power.”
This summer I read “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daron
Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. The book theorizes that a nation is on the path to failure when its
political institutions fail to include large groups of the nation’s people. When the politics of the nation
are controlled by the elite, then inevitably the economic institutions will eventually cater to the elite at
the expense of those who are excluded from the nation’s politics. When politics exclude the average
person, eventually the elite, whether they be nobles or simply bureaucrats, will use their power to take
economic resources from the common man. This taking is called economic extraction. Economic
extraction has played out time and time again throughout history. Today, the US is exceptional because
it has been the most politically inclusive nation in the history of the world. As time has passed, the
nation has become more and more inclusive. When people are permitted to participate in their nation’s
politics, they will find themselves able to succeed economically. If you can count on the government to
protect your property rights, you can have confidence to take economic risks. This form of government
is why the US has found so much economic success. We are truly blessed to live in a nation like America.
While everyone has a right to vote in America, not everyone exercises that right. A vote is a horrible
thing to waste. A vote gives you a voice, but when you choose not to vote, you choose to silence
yourself. History has shown how the powerful can abuse the voiceless. Our Founding Fathers revolted
from a nation with a poor history of protecting the weak from the powerful. For centuries, English
peasants were the majority population, but they found themselves voiceless and defenseless against the
powerful English royals and nobles. The common people suffered under centuries of high taxes and
flimsy at best property rights. Without a doubt, English peasants suffered from economic extraction.
This system was forced upon them by a government empowered by force, not democracy. These people
would have held the right to vote in great esteem, but their political system was not inclusive. If millions
of people choose not to vote, our political systems become exclusive by choice. If you do not vote, you
are unable to ensure that your elected officials represent your best interests. If this happens, you too
could experience economic extraction.
If elected, Joe Biden and the Democrats will practice economic extraction and make our political system
less inclusive. Mr. Biden’s economic plan calls for a radical increase in corporate taxes and dividend
taxes. In many cases, the combined effect will be the government laying claim to 56 cents of a dollar of
profit earned. You need to understand that taxation is not creation. New money is not created when the
government taxes. They are simply taking a dollar from your pocket and placing it in their pocket. They
do this because they believe they can spend that dollar more efficiently than you can. This is economic
The Democrats will not stop at economic extraction. They will move to practice political exclusion. For
years, Democrats have expressed their desire to abolish the Electoral College in favor of a nationwide
popular vote. Our Founding Fathers opposed a nationwide popular vote because they understood that
the Electoral College was the only way to protect the voice of citizens in small town America. If a
nationwide popular vote determined the President, a candidate could strictly campaign to the major
population centers in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, and San Diego. The
population is so large in these cities that the people in these metropolises could determine an election
on their own. If this were the case, politicians would cater to these communities and ignore the needs of
small towns across the country. If the Electoral College were abolished, small town America would lose
its voice. If small town America lost its voice, how much more economic extraction would we face?
This election is very important. Do not think that you are just one person in a nation of 329 million
people. Your one vote has more value than you think. In America, we effectively do not have a national
Presidential election. Truly, the Electoral College is the sum of 50 statewide elections. Electoral votes
represent points earned across 50 statewide elections. Realizing this, Georgia’s conservatives must focus
on the outcome in Georgia. We cannot fall into the trap of believing that Georgia is a lock for President
Trump. For the past decade, Georgia’s elections have been trending in the wrong direction for
Republicans. Early in the 2010s, Republicans could count on 53% of the vote in Georgia. Nathan Deal
(2010 and 2014), Mitt Romney (2012), and David Perdue (2014) all won 53% of the vote across the State
of Georgia. This was a sharp drop off from the 2006 Governor’s race where Sonny Perdue won 58% of
the vote. By 2016, the gap had closed even more. Four years ago, President Trump won Georgia with
only 50.4% of the vote. In the 2018 Governor’s race, the election was even closer. Brian Kemp won the
Governor’s Mansion with only 50.2% of the vote, with a winning margin of just 54,723 votes. In Gilmer,
Fannin, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, and Union Counties alone, Governor Kemp received 60,117 votes. In
each of these counties, he received at least 79% of votes cast. Kemp won similar amounts of the vote
throughout the counties that make up the 9 th and 14 th Congressional districts – the rural north Georgia
districts. Conversely, Fulton and Dekalb Counties alone cast a combined 567,991 votes for Stacey
Abrams representing 30% of her total votes. To overcome the Atlanta vote and prevent the Democrats
from overtaking Georgia, it is going to take the combined efforts of every small town in this state.
Sadly, Georgia has become a battleground state. If people in rural north Georgia stay at home, Georgia
is an attainable victory for any Democrat. This year’s election is projected to be very close. If President
Trump loses the Peach State, Georgia’s sixteen electoral college votes very well could be the reason he
loses the election. Moreover, we have two US Senate seats currently held by Republicans up for election
this year. Republicans have a slim majority in the US Senate but losing the two Georgia seats could hand
the Senate to the Democrats. It is possible that the State of Georgia could hand control of the White
House and the US Senate to the Democrats. North Georgia, we cannot let that happen.
It is my hope that you understand how important it is that you vote this year. You do not need to stop
there though. Once you vote, you need to make sure your friends and family vote. North Georgia
conservatives need to realize that a Republican victory in Georgia is no longer a given. Do not assume
everyone votes. We must be more active as our counties could very well decide who governs our
country for the next four years. Our community must have a strong voter turnout. Early voting will last
until October 30 th . Saturday voting is on October 24 th . If you would like to vote by mail, you must apply
for your ballot by October 30 th . This should be done as soon as possible and can be done online or
through the mail. Finally, in person voting on Election Day will take place on November 3 rd from 7 AM to
7 PM at your assigned polling station. To find your polling station, please visit mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do.
Please share this information with your friends. Voter turnout in our community could determine this election.
The Gilmer County Republican Party is ready and willing to help you feel comfortable voting this year. Should
you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the party through our website or Facebook page.
This year, our nation is given a choice between the party of freedom and the party of economic
extraction. Elections are determined by those who show up. North Georgia, can we count on you to
show up for Republicans this fall? God Bless!
Chairman of The Gilmer Trump Campaign, a subcommittee of the Gilmer County Republican Party
Reece Sanford, CFA is the Chairman of The Gilmer Trump Campaign, Assistant Secretary –
Communications of the Gilmer County Republican Party, and a native of Ellijay, GA. He holds a BBA in
Finance from The University of Georgia and an MBA from Kennesaw State University. Mr. Sanford also
holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. He is a career community banker currently
working in small business lending. He has served on the boards of several non-profits throughout north
Georgia. He has served as Youth Engagement Director of the Gilmer County Republican Party, holds an
advisory role with a trade association Political Action Committee, and has consulted on multiple political
campaigns. He and his wife, Kerri Ann, enjoy spending their free time exploring north Georgia, running,
traveling, and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author. They do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Republican Party, its members, any other organization the author may be
associated with, nor his family members.
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – The polls have closed for the August 11 runoff election. To review the unofficial election returns for your local, state, and federal races, check out the list below. Please remember all the results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.
Precincts: 12 of 12 reporting
Stan Helton (I) – 1,097
Jamie Hensley – 3,956
U.S. House of Representatives District 9
Andrew Clyde – 2,826
Matt Gurtler – 2,147
Devin Pandy – 344
Brooke Siskin – 179
To see the state election returns, click here. This article contains the overall race winner and identified runoffs for State House, State Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate in FYN’s coverage area.
The General Election is scheduled for November 3 as well as the jungle primary for Senator Kelly Loeffler’s seat.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Students of the Fannin County School System (FCSS) will have the option of returning to school in a modified traditional setting or utilizing online learning for the 2020-21 school year.
School Administration released their plans for reopening schools at the Board of Education (BOE) regular July meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon gave the board an overview of what to expect when school comes back into session.
The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) released guidelines in early June for schools to consider when reopening in the State of Georgia. These guidelines, however, were only recommendations and the ultimate decisions for school operations were left up to the districts.
The DOE guidelines, along with guidance from both local and state authorities, as well as guardian and faculty input helped shape the approach that the FCSS is choosing to implement for the time being.
“The important part for us was to get the information and make the best decisions that we can,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke of the system’s plan. “This plan is subject to change. We need to think of this as a living document. It will be modified as new things are learned.”
Traditional school, or in person education will begin on August 7, 2020.
Faculty and Staff are to report on August 3, 2020.
Online Learning will also begin on August 7, 2020.
Parents and Guardians may enroll their child for Online Learning between July 10 – July 20, 2020.
For those not comfortable with the traditional in class setting, an online option will be available. Assistant Superintendent Rigdon stressed that this online option will not mirror the distance learning that the school put in place upon the mandatory closure earlier this year.
The online learning platform will be run through a 3rd party that is yet to be determined. The platform will provide instruction to the child with the parent or guardian being a “learning coach”.
Students enrolled in online learning will spend the majority of the traditional school day (8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) either working online or working to complete assignments given online. Attendance will be taken and monitored via login and assignments completed.
There will be FCSS personnel assigned to check on each child’s progress. The “learning coaches” will be given the name of someone at the school who can help them navigate the program or assist with issues.
The content of the online learning platform, according to FCSS, will be “rigorous and graded”.
Students enrolled in Online Learning will be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities.
While the FCSS is not requiring that students sign a contract to remain in the online platform once enrolled (many other districts have this requirement), they would like to see those enrolled stay with the program through the first semester or for the entirety of the school year.
“We are not asking parents to sign a commitment, but we do want them to be extremely thoughtful as they make that decision because it is going to require us to allocate and spend funds that could be better spent if they’re not going to stick with the program,” Rigdon explained of the need for students and guardians to consider the decision heavily.
Rigdon did add for those who enroll but discover that the online platform is not working for them, “We are never turning a child away from our schools.”
Students utilizing the Online Learning platform will complete assignments from a school issued device. FCSS will provide a WiFi hotspot for students without internet, but these hotspots work much like mobile phones, so if you are an area with poor cell phone service it is likely that the hotspot would not work for you.
Online Learning is available for children in grades Kindergarten – 12. This includes children with IEPs (Individualized Educational Program). Online Learning is not available for Pre-K students.
Masks are optional for both students and personnel. Parents or Guardians must provide a mask for students who wish to wear one throughout the day.
Temperatures will be taken for all students, staff, parents and guardians each morning upon arriving at the campus. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be permitted to stay at school.
Hand sanitizer will be available to all children and adults before entering the school buildings.
Elementary teachers will move the students instead of students changing classes. Middle and High School students will not be allowed to congregate in hallways. When and where possible class changes for Middle and High School students will be staggered or hallway traffic patterns will be addressed to prevent overcrowding.
When possible students will be assigned seats and will keep the same seat during the instructional class period.
Each school will “develop school level procedures” to limit the number of students in the cafeteria. This may include “grab and go” where students will pick up meals and eat in a classroom or designated area.
The final plan for buses has not been finalized. However, hand sanitizer will be available for anyone upon boarding a bus. Buses will be sanitized daily and ventilated to the extent feasible when in route.
Parents and guardians will be notified of any adjustments to bus routes or pick up times before the first day of school. Requirement to wear a mask while on a bus has not been decided, but parents and guardians will be notified of this decision as well.
Parents and guardians will be allowed to walk their child to class during the first few days of school but must wear a mask. Schools will determine when parents and guardians will no longer have access beyond the main entrance.
FCSS states “We want to keep the lines of communication strong, but we need to limit the number of people flowing into and out of the buildings each day.”
***If Schools Close Again***
Those students enrolled in Online Learning would continue the course that they are taking with no change. Students of the traditional classroom setting would switch to online learning but follow a model similar to that that was implemented in March 2020.
The FCSS states of the opening plan that “plans may change based on future orders from the Governor, the Department of Community Health, or the Department of Education”.
“Our desire is always to operate a traditional school with face to face,” Rigdon said of the hope for all students eventually to return to a traditional setting, “We believe our instruction is best at that level.”
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County School System (FCSS) is moving forward with plans to reopen the district in August.
“Our goal remains to have school in August,” FCSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke at the recent Board of Education meeting, adding, “Now, it’s impossible to say right now exactly how school will look in August, as so much will depend on the health of our community at that time.”
Gwatney, along with district personnel and the Board of Education, are looking to find a balance for the upcoming year, weighing both the needs of the students and the needs of the community.
The Georgia Department of Education released guidelines on Monday, June 1, 2020 for districts moving forward. This advisement breaks up reopening recommendations into three categories:
- Low/No Spread (of Covid-19)
- Minimal/Moderate Spread
- Substantial Spread
Each category has specific guidelines and recommendations for operating a school system based on the health of the community, and can range from traditional operation (in person) to hybrid operation (alternating schedules) to distance/remote learning.
You can read the guidelines released by the Georgia Department of Education by clicking here : Georgia’s K-12 Restart and Recovery
“The great thing that I love about the plan is that it is actually giving communities back control of how their schools function,” FCSS Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon said of the new recommendations.
While the district is preparing and hopeful to have children back in the classroom this fall, they are also preparing for a worst case scenario, where distance/remote learning is the only option once again.
FCSS Director of Instructional Technology, Heather Finley, gave the public a brief overview of how the statewide closure was handled in March of this year.
During the past nine weeks, 68,000 meals were still served to students, over 700 Google Classrooms were created, approximately 900 virtual meetings and classrooms were attended, WiFi Hotspots were provided to families throughout the county, and those with special needs were still provided services.
“If we can do this in 3 days,” Finely said of the district’s quick response to the pandemic crisis in March, “we can plan for August and figure it out.”
The school system is sending out a survey to parents, guardians, facility, and staff regarding their feelings on moving forward with the 2020-2021 school year. This survey will be based on the low to moderate guidelines recommended by the State.
“This has been a very polarizing issue, and so it should be interesting once we get some of this data back to how the community feels,” Rigdon said of the survey.
The hope of conducting the survey is to get genuine feedback from those with an invested interest in the operations of the school district on a variety of topics that will need to be addressed before moving forward.
An example of such a topic was given as to whether or not children should be required to wear masks in school.
The school system has also been seeking guidance from a wide variety of professionals in the medical, legal, economic and emergency management fields.
Rigdon will share the findings from the survey at the July Board of Education meeting so that plans can be made for the reopening of Fannin County schools in August.
“We are excited that we are going to be able to go back to local control. It’s our kids and our community,” Rigdon stated and added, “Educators have missed their kids.”
Board member Lewis Deweese shared his feelings on how every obstacle has been met so far by the Fannin County School System: “The demonstration of love and the compassion that our teachers have for students, it goes above and beyond the call of duty by far.”
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Uncertainty best describes the school year so far, and among this uncertainty has been how to handle graduation for the Senior Class of 2020.
“It is my hope that the following communication helps alleviate the stress of our 2020 Graduates and their
families,” Fannin County High School (FCHS) Principal Erik Cioffi stated in an email, adding, “I would love nothing more than to have our full traditional graduation ceremony at FCHS on May 22nd.”
Cioffi goes on to say, “After consulting with our local leaders and following guidelines, as of today, May 6, 2020, it is our hope that we can create and celebrate graduation through various formats that our senior class of 2020 will cherish for a lifetime.”
Fannin County High School has opted to hold a traditional (modified) Graduation Ceremony on May 22, 2020 at the FCHS Stadium. This ceremony will begin at 8:00 p.m. with the following practices in place for public safety:
Under the following conditions, FCHS will offer a 2 Guest Invitational Ceremony on campus for our
- Tickets will be issued to the graduates and they will choose who receives them.
- All guests will be required to wear a mask (graduates may remove during their walk or giving speeches).
- All guests will follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart); local law enforcement will be present to monitor and ensure full cooperation for the safety of all guests
- All visitors will have their temperature taken (forehead thermometer) upon entering the stadium by local EMS. Anyone who has a temperature reading of over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter.
- We will use both the visitor stands and the home stands for the ceremony (we can seat safely 440 guests).
- The graduates will be assigned seating on the field (from the 50 yard line to end zone,all graduates will face the scoreboard)
- At the conclusion of the event: students will be dismissed to the visiting parking lot and then we will dismiss guest from the stands. Guests will park on main campus and students will park behind visitor stadium.
In order for this event to be successful – All students and guests must adhere to the above guidelines
The May 22nd Graduation Ceremony will be live streamed at www.fanninrebeltv.com for all extended
family and community members to watch our Graduates be celebrated in these unprecedented times.
**Inclement weather – Graduation will be re-scheduled for May 23rd @ 10 am **
Graduation Rehearsal on May 20th @ FCHS Stadium
Required by all Graduates:
9:00 am – Honor Graduates
10:30 am – Remaining Graduate Candidates
- All Graduates will park behind the visitor stadium and report to the stadium field upon arrival
- All Graduates will be required to wear a mask
- All Graduates will follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart)
- All Graduates will have their temperature taken (forehead thermometer) upon entering the stadium. Any Graduate who has a temperature reading of over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter.)
Seniors must also complete Graduation Procedures May 11 – 13:
- Arrive on campus in the football stadium visitor parking lot at your designated time.
- Seniors are scheduled in five minute intervals over a period of three days. It is imperative you arrive 5 minutes prior to your scheduled time and leave campus immediately after you receive your diploma jacket and take pictures.
- Remain in your vehicle until instructed to exit.
- Enter the field house paying attention to the floor markers for social distancing.
- Your temperature will be taken.
- Only the student or designee may Only the student or designee may enter the field house to return items (one person).
- Following directional arrows, go to each station returning or picking up items.
- Following directional arrows, proceed to the field.
Items to Return
Textbooks, Classroom Library Books
Library Book(s), Calculators
Fines, Dues, Lunch Charges
Uniforms, Instruments, Scripts, Calculators, Etc.
Items to Collect
- Up to (3 vehicles) 15 guests may enter the visitor entrance and view from the track as student walks.
- Each student will have his/her name called and be able to walk the field for a private graduation
ceremony with his/her family. A photographer will be present to capture the moment.
- Student and guests will exit the stadium on the opposite side of the parking lot.
- The walk will be videotaped, to be used at a later date, in the event a virtual ceremony would
- Allotted time is approximately 10 minutes.
During this trying time, FetchYourNews.com wants you to know we are a part of your community. We know this Easter will be much different than most. No family gatherings, Sunrise services, or church gatherings but we want you all to remember, that we will get through this. We are all in this together. Here at FYN we wish you well on this Easter weekend.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Home.
We are all in this together!
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffensperger released a statement urging Georgians to take advantage of the absentee ballot during this unique time in voting history.
According to statistics from the 2016 and 2018 elections 95 percent of voters in Georgia chose to cast their ballots in person while only 5 percent took advantage of the absentee ballot (mail in) option.
Raffensperger is hoping that more voters will now opt for the absentee ballot, as social distancing cannot be easily obtained at most polling locations.
A press release regarding the 2020 elections states: “Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes.”
It goes on to say that voters “will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19.”
Fannin County Election Supervisor Mary Ann Conner is also urging residents to take advantage of this way of voting: “Not knowing what April and May hold in store with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing voting as we have never seen it before and to ensure the safety and the well-being of the voters, we join with the SOS in urging our voters in Fannin County to request an absentee by mail ballot.”
The SOS will begin mailing absentee ballot applications on March 30, 2020. Only active voters will receive an application. If you are an inactive voter, you can call the Fannin County Election Office and request an application.
Early voting will run April 27 – May 19, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be a Saturday vote on May 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
PRESS RELEASE FROM SECRETARY OF STATE
(ATLANTA) — Secretary of State Raffensperger is taking unprecedented steps to protect the public health of Georgia voters while also upholding the integrity of the vote. These temporary steps are being made because of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening public health in Georgia and around the world. Secretary Raffensperger will be mailing absentee ballot request forms to every Georgia voter. This extraordinary effort to ensure all Georgians can vote without fear for their health will supplement extra measures to ensure those who rely on in-person voting to access the ballot can do so safely. “Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Raffensperger. “I am acting today because the people of Georgia, from the earliest settlers to heroes like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, have fought too long and too hard for their right to vote to have it curtailed. Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again through the grit and ingenuity that has made America a shining example for democracies around the world.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is moving to increase Georgia voter access and protect the public health of voters and poll workers during the COVID-19 emergency through increased mail in voting. In the 2016 and 2018 November elections, around 95 percent of Georgia voters opted to cast their ballot in person versus the 5 percent who did so by mail. With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial. All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason.
Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to the Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes. In doing so, Raffensperger will literally be dropping a way to vote in safety and security on each Georgia voter’s doorstep. They will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19. Georgia’s most vulnerable, those over age 65 and those with a disability, can request absentee ballots for the primary and general election as well as all elections through the 2020 election cycle with this one application. Other voters will need to submit another application for future elections. The elderly and disabled will to be able to vote in safety and security. While Secretary Raffensperger is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely. People without internet or mail access, such as those experiencing homelessness; Georgians who need language assistance; and people with disabilities who rely on voting machines to cast their ballot will still be able to do so in person on the state’s new voting system. Additionally, research from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law shows that eliminating “in-person voting could disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino, and young voters”. Their right to vote too needs protection.
To that end, Raffensperger is taking extra steps to limit the threat of COVID-19 at the polling place. Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote. These measures will protect poll workers as well. Understanding the extra risk Georgia’s generally elderly poll workers face, Raffensperger is working to help counties hire more and younger poll workers. Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat. Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller commended Raffensperger for taking initiative to safeguard health and preserve voter access. “I want to applaud Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office for taking decisive measures in this time of crisis,” Miller said. “These steps are critical in this temporary environment to protect our poll workers and give our counties time to successfully plan for the Georgia General Primary in May. Make no mistake about it, the members of the majority caucus and I remain committed to keep the General Primary on May 19th.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is taking these unprecedented actions for the safety and security of Georgia’s voters. Through these decisive steps, Raffensperger is protecting public health and the right to vote in Georgia.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Qualifying has officially ended in Fannin County, and many candidates came out to have their names put on the ballot for the open seats in the 2020 Election.
The following candidates have officially qualified in Fannin County:
Fannin County Chairman
Stan Helton (Incumbent – Republican)
Bill Simonds (Republican)
James Hensley (Republican)
Vincent Davis (Republican)
Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner
Johnny Scearce (Republican)
Susan Hayes (Republican)
Debra Holcombe (Republican)
Dixie L. Carter (Democrat)
Fannin County Board of Education (Succeed Terry Bramlett)
Terry Bramlett (Incumbent – Republican)
Greg Staffins (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Lewis Deweese)
Lewis Deweese (Incumbent – Republican)
Kathy Smyth (Democrat)
Lorraine Panter (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Chad Galloway)
Chad Galloway (Incumbent – Republican)
Teresa “TC” Dillard (Democrat)
Fannin County Coroner
Becky Callihan (Incumbent – Republican)
William “Billy” Lake Standridge, Jr (Republican)
Fannin County Tax Commissioner
Rita Newton (Republican)
Fannin County Sheriff
Dane Kirby (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Clerk of Court
Dana Chastain (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Chief Magistrate Judge
Brian Jones – Incumbent
Fannin County Probate Judge
Scott Kiker (Incumbent)
Fannin County Surveyor
Shelly Bishop (Incumbent – Republican)
Sam Walker (Republican)
District 7 State Representative
David Ralston (Incumbent – Republican)
Rick Day (Democrat)
State Senate District 51
Steve Gooch (Incumbent – Republican)
June Krise (Democrat)
Public Service Commission District 4
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (Incumbent – Republican)
Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)
Daniel Blackman (Democrat)
John Noel (Democrat)
Judge of Superior Court Appalachian Circuit
Brenda Weaver (Incumbent – Non-partisan)
District Attorney Appalachian
B. Alison Sosebee (Incumbent – Republican)
Ninth District U.S. Congress
Michael Boggus (Republican)
Andrew Clyde (Republican)
Matt Gurtler (Republican)
Maria Strickland (Republican)
Kevin Tanner (Republican)
Ethan Underwood (Republican)
Devin Pandy (Democrat)
Paul Broun (Republican)
John Wilkinson (Republican)
Dan Wilson (Democrat)
Kellie Weeks (Republican)
United States Senate – Perdue Seat
James Knox (Democrat)
Jon Ossoff (Democrat)
Teresa Pike Tomlinson (Democrat)
Tricia Carpenter McCracken (Democrat)
Sarah Riggs Amico (Democrat)
Shane Hazel (Libertarian)
Marc Keith DeJesus (Democrat)
Maya Dillard Smith (Democrat)
David Perdue (Incumbent – Republican)
United States Senate – Loeffler Seat (Special Election in November)
Kelly Loeffler (Incumbent – Republican)
Doug Collins (Republican)
A. Wayne Johnson (Republican)
Kandiss Taylor (Republican)
Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democrat)
Matt Lieberman (Democrat)
Joy Felicia Shade (Democrat)
Ed Tarver (Democrat)
Richard Dien Winfield (Democrat)
Al Bartell (Independent)
Allen Buckley (Independent)
Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)
Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)
Rod Mack (Write-In)
Qualifying for the presidential preference primary election occurred in Dec. 2019 and will take place on March 24, but the general primary for the state is on May 19, 2020. For the general primary, early voting begins on April 27.
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