In one of the most important local elections in years– an August 16th runoff will decide the next Macon mayor and state senator– the need for a robust turnout could determine whether Macon and the state of Georgia takes a step forward or two steps back.
With the runoff less than three weeks away, there are efforts to shed a negative light on the candidates’ ability to encourage potential voters to come back to the polls on Tuesday, August 16th.
One example is the Macon Transit Authority’s pending legal challenge to political campaigning at the Terminal station in downtown Macon along with the Macon Telegraph’s assertion in a July 30th article that a Facebook page advocating taking people to the polls should require closer scrutiny by the Secretary of State office.
Unfortunately, instead of encouraging voter turnout and facilitating constructive debate on the issues, it appears the local media is more concerned in reporting sensatonal, unsubstaniated accusations.
The Facebook postings were reviewed by request of the local newspaper, The Macon Telegraph. The state inspector saw nothing wrong via Matt Carrothers, director of media relations for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
Now, the local media would rather talk about whether Robert Brown could be a part of an Ellis administration rather than the needs of the community such as having Sunday service for people who ride the bus here in Macon or issues such as the funding of pensions.
C. Jack Ellis’ mayoral campaign had recently filed a protest based on how the July 19th primary voting was handled by the Bibb County Board of Elections.
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday, March 7th upheld a Republican-supported state law requiring voters to show identification before they cast ballots. In the court’s 6-1 decision, the justices came to the conclusion that no Georgia voter had their rights disenfranchised by the current 2006 law.
The lone dissent came from Justice Robert Benham, who said getting the free photo ID was even more burdensome than registering to vote.
Breham writes in his legal dissent: “This country has a long history of denying the franchise to certain groups of citizens-non-property owners, members of certain religions, African-Americans, women, Native Americans, young adults aged 18 to 21, etc. It is unfortunate that over the course of the last 13 years, this State has placed ever increasing restrictions on its citizens’ ability to cast regular, non-provisional ballots at their local polling precincts.”
With Georgia Republicans very close to a constituional majority in the Georgia General Assembly, there have been more intense efforts by Macon Republicans to take this progressive state Senate along with the mayor’s office with the assistance of increased turnout from the conservative Howard voting precincts in Macon.
The runoff will be close and every vote will be important.
Mid-term and city elections typically have lower turnout in comparison to presidential elections.
However, in Central Georgia’s most progressive county of Bibb and the city of Macon, years of voter apathy could finally open the door for conservatives with an opportunity to turn back the clock of progress which was gained after the Voting Righs Act was passed.
In the July 19th primary, voter turnout was under 40%.
As of late July, there are no scheduled televised debates for the state Senate 26 seat between David Lucas and Miriam Paris. No debates are currently scheduled for the Macon mayoral race between C. Jack Ellis and Robert Reichert.