Federal officials have followed through on a threat issued nearly two weeks ago. From the Associated Press:
The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia and its chief election official for allegedly not giving enough time to military service members, their families and citizens living overseas to return absentee ballots for the Aug. 21 federal primary runoff election.
The Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday that the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The news release says Georgia’s procedures are “inadequate to ensure that its eligible military and overseas voters can participate fully” in the runoff, should one be necessary.
Federal officials contend that under Georgia’s election calendar, absentee ballots for the runoff election won’t be sent out until after the July 7 deadline, or 45 days in advance of the election.
Of course, it’s hard to issue a runoff ballot on July 7 when the first round of voting doesn’t occur until July 31. This morning, Secretary of State Brian Kemp declared that this is a case of blue administration meddling in red-state affairs:
“I am incredibly disappointed in the action that the Department of Justice took yesterday. As I said last week, I do not view this as an earnest effort on behalf of military and overseas voters, but rather a politically motivated stunt during an election year. The timing and lack of communication simply does not allow for any other explanation.”
A consent order proposed by DOJ officials last week would require the state to hold off declaring official winners of an Aug. 21 primary runoff by seven working days, until Aug. 31 – to give time for overseas ballots to flow in and be counted. (A similar cushion would be added to any – highly unlikely — Dec. 4 general election runoff that involves federal office.)
Which means the one contest that could be impacted by the DOJ action is the GOP contest to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Wednesday met with members of the LGBT community who are demanding that he follow President Barack Obama’s lead and endorse same-sex marriage. From the Georgia Voice, quoting Democratic state House candidate Ken Britt:
“I would compare it to somebody coming out, that he has got to take time to think about what is meaningful to him. This was an educational process and he was very open and it was a very warm and friendly discussion,” Britt said. “In fact he has offered to have a follow up session in July to talk more about this.”
Britt said that while Reed did not say that he plans to announce support for gay marriage, his impression was that the mayor will eventually reach that position.
“One thing he did say that I think we are all taking with us is that tolerance is a two-way street and we really have to give him some time to continue on his journey to think about this,” Britt said. “I think he will come out on the other side in the right place.”
Those at the meeting said the mayor emphasized that his current disinclination to support gay marriage – he does support civil unions – is based on a personal belief and not political calculations.
This morning’s print column in the AJC focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s immigration law and its impact on Georgia politics – as Republicans now struggle to reach a consensus on the issue.
Wholly by coincidence, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, this morning sent out an email to constituents on the same topic, and attempted to chart out some common ground. We include four of his 10 points:
7. Provide an avenue for legal residence status and possible future citizenship for the children of illegal aliens. There is a difference between adults who cross the border illegally and the children who follow their parents across. For the most part, these children know no other home but America. If these children stay in high school, attend college or obtain skilled job training or enlist in the military, and stay out of legal trouble, we should provide them with a pathway to citizenship. There is presently in Congress the DREAM Act touted by many Democrats and the STAR Act supported by Senator Marco Rubio and others in the GOP. It is time for advocates of each to find common ground.
8. For adults who have crossed our borders illegally, we need to be realistic – 12 million people are not going home and we need to figure out a way to get them out of the underground economy they presently exist in. We should not offer citizenship or permanent residency to anyone whose first act in America is to violate our immigration laws. This sends the wrong message to others who are considering crossing the border illegally and is unfair to those who are patiently waiting their turn to enter the country legally. However, if an illegal alien has otherwise kept out of trouble with the law and has family and roots here, we should allow them to pay a fine and be given a temporary ten year renewable visa. Renewability should be based on the temporary visa holders’ continued ability to sustain him or herself without government assistance either through employment or family and the absence of a criminal record.
9. Use the Supreme Court ruling on the limits of state action to push the federal government. The Supreme Court set out a balance between the federal and state governments that must be recognized in any future legislation. At the same time, this decision should also re-energize our call for the federal government to meet its responsibility and act.
10. Draw a clear distinction between legitimate concerns about illegal aliens and generally anti-immigration views. Our nation is a nation of immigrants. Georgia has been fortunate over the past few decades to become a point of destination for those who wish to come to our country legally. They have benefited us economically and culturally. We should oppose any legislation that seeks to limit legal immigrants’ acceptance in our state or ability to strive for the American dream.
Read Lindsey’s thoughts in their entirety here on his Facebook page. Let the conversation begin.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider