This email from Garland Favorito of VoterGA is packed with information. It includes a mention of the Macon Telegraph article that we posted below, updates on legislation to decrease Georgia’s signature requirements and information on the persecution of a sitting independent Georgia legislator.
Here are some significant updates on the legislative front:
First, there is no significant movement on verifiable voting legislation in this session, however, no legislation is needed to move Georgia to verifiable voting equipment. Existing law supports verifiable optical scan equipment, paper ballots and electronic voting machines with VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail). Code changes would only be needed to implement precinct audit procedures but those procedures are not technically possible until the machines have been replaced. We have met with Secretary Kemp and one of the Governor’s policy directors to explain the potential solutions that we believe are viable. We expect to meet with the Secretary again in the next week or two to provide an update on our findings and stress the need to act..
Second, thanks to John Fortuin from Defenders of Democracy, a video tape of the SB 377 hearing is now available at Vimeo.com. SB 377 attempted to place an unprecedented new restriction that would require candidate petition signers to show an ID to the petitioner who is typically a total stranger, thus making it an already difficult task essentially impossible The video that shows how our testimony was able to thwart this unprecedented new restriction introduced by Sen. Buddy Carter, is available here:
Third, thanks to reporter Maggie Lee, the Macon Telegraph produced one of the first in depth articles by a Georgia city newspaper regarding the ridiculous restrictions placed on candidates running for Georgia office. It is available here:
This topic was previously the near exclusive domain of Matthew Cardinale and the Atlanta Progressive News. An example of his most recent article on this subject, HB 949 and the current legislative session is here:
Fourth, in spite of some rather negative and potentially misleading comments in the Macon Telegraph article from Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), the chairman of the House Government Affairs Committee that hears election bills, HB 949 is on the General House Calendar for Monday, March 5 and the ballot access community is supportive of the minor petitioning improvements that the bill offers. Georgia currently has the most restrictive petitioning requirements for district races in the entire country. The requirements are 10 times more restrictive than the national average of all other states combined. HB 949 would move Georgia from the worst in the country to 49th and still leave district races 7 times more restrictive that the national average of all other states. We have consistently pointed out that this proposed improvement is wholly inadequate but we do not oppose the change. The text of the bill is here:.
Fifth, we were unable to get a hearing from Rep. Mark Hamilton for HB 494, the “real ballot access bill”. HB 494 proposes to remove candidate petitioning requirements altogether just as Florida did successfully in 1999 and it allows any Georgian to run for office by paying the standard filing fee that a Democrat or Republican would pay. If freedom and equality sound like common sense principles of good American government, you might want to explain that to the chairman sometime in the future in hopes that he may keep that in mind for Georgia next year if he retains his current position.
Sixth, HB 494 author, Rusty Kidd, is now under investigation by the Attorney General’s office after being referred by the State Election Board for 17 questionable signatures out of 1,500 collected in his recent petition drive. Rep. Kidd, an independent in the Georgia legislature, was forced by law to petition for his reelection despite the fact that he was a sitting Georgia legislator! HB 949 will solve this problem for independent incumbents like Rep. Kidd in the future but that does not necessarily help Rep Kidd now. His case, SEB2010-000067, was heard by the State Election Board on Tuesday, February 29th in Macon. Maggie Lee was there to cover the story with this article:
The case summary is here:
SEB Case No. 2010-000067 Baldwin County (Petition) - Chris Harvey presented this case and recommended that the board bind the case over to the Attorney General’s Office.
Chairman Kemp recuses himself from the case due to his connection to Representative Kidd on the Election Advisory Council.
Kent Webb made a motion to accept a document from Mr. Harvey, Rusty Simpson seconded; the motion passed unanimously 3 – 0.
The public speaker was Representative E. Culver “Rusty” Kidd (respondent).
Kent Webb made a motion to accept a document from Representative Kidd, Rusty Simpson seconded; the motion passed unanimously 3 – 0.
Kent Webb made a motion to bind SEB Case No. 2010-000067 to the Attorney General’s Office, Rusty Simpson seconded; the motion passed unanimously 3 – 0.
Chairman Kemp calls for the Re-Presentation to SEB cases.
Finally, the petitioning case against Rep. Kidd should be taken seriously. Those of you who have read my previous Emails and posts know that the State Election Board is extremely political. Former Savannah area councilman, Jeff Rayno, was falsely accused of petition forgery and referred to the Attorney General’s office for investigation without evidence of a single forged signature!. After being referred with no evidence by board member, Kent Webb and former Secretary, Karen Handel, he was forced to make three trips to State Election Board meetings before the board finally admitted that they had no case against him. A sitting councilwoman, Helen Stone, who submitted the original complaint actually testified before the board that none should be let go “until it can be proved they had nothing to do with the forgeries”! One board, member actually had to explain to her that: “This is America and the accused person does not have to prove his innocence” Excerpts of this amazing hearing can be found by searching the VoterGa Complaint page for “excerpts” here:
The full meeting transcript is here:
We will be watching Rep Kidd’s case closely and reporting on any new developments.
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