Hours-long lines to vote in Ge­or­gia sub­ject of House debate

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ben Nadler

A spat over whether hours­long lines ex­pe­ri­enced by some Ge­or­gia vot­ers were a pos­i­tive sign of in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion or an un­fa­vor­able re­sult of poor in­vest­ment and mis­man­age­ment bub­bled up in Congress this week dur­ing a debate over a pro­posal that seeks to make sweep­ing changes to vot­ing law.

Dur­ing a House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing Tues­day in Wash­ing­ton, re­cent elec­tions in Ge­or­gia and a hand­ful of other states were crit­i­cized as Democrats as­serted the need for stronger na­tional vot­ing pro­tec­tions. Repub­li­cans called the leg­is­la­tion an un­con­sti­tu­tional power grab that takes power from elected state and lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Ge­or­gia elec­tions came un­der scru­tiny dur­ing Novem­ber’s gu­ber­na­to­rial race be­tween Demo­crat Stacey Abrams and Repub­li­can Gov. Brian Kemp, who served as sec­re­tary of state be­fore win­ning the con­test. Kemp re­fused calls to re­sign from over­see­ing his own elec­tion, only step­ping down two days af­ter­ward.

Facets of Ge­or­gia’s vot­ing sys­tem, in­clud­ing the state’s out­dated vot­ing ma­chines and its prac­tice of hold­ing and purg­ing voter reg­is­tra­tions for list main­te­nance, are the sub­ject of on­go­ing le­gal chal­lenges in fed­eral and state courts.

But the men­tion of long vot­ing lines dur­ing the hear­ing touched off a bat­tle of words be­tween two U.S. House mem­bers from Ge­or­gia.

“We dis­cussed long lines — that ac­tu­ally should be ap­plauded. We have long lines be­cause a lot of peo­ple wanted to vote,” Repub­li­can Rep. Doug Collins said while de­fend­ing Ge­or­gia elec­tions.

Later in the hear­ing, newly elected Demo­cratic Rep. Lucy McBath shot back at Collins.

“My col­league, Con­gress­man Collins, said ear­lier to­day that he thought that long lines to vote in Ge­or­gia were a good sign,” McBath said. “And I know many of his Repub­li­can col­leagues ab­so­lutely be­lieve the same thing, and I can tell you, I do not.”

She called the long lines “at best a sign of un­der­in­vest­ment in vot­ing and at worst a form of ex­treme voter sup­pres­sion.”

Sher­ri­lyn Ifill of the NAACP Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund said that her or­ga­ni­za­tion does elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing and called the long lines in re­cent elec­tions “a mon­u­ment to our fail­ure to in­vest in the cast­ing of bal­lots.”

“I can­not imag­ine how any­one could think that vot­ers wait­ing on line in the morn­ing for four hours in Gwin­nett County, Ge­or­gia — be­cause the ma­chines lacked the power cords — how any­one could think that was a good thing,” Ifill said.

Vot­ers at one precinct in Snel­lville faced hours­long waits in Novem­ber af­ter ma­chines didn’t have power cords and ran out of bat­ter­ies.

Other vot­ers in and around At­lanta were in­censed by long lines on Elec­tion Day, some with waits up to three hours. Some of the long­est lines formed at polling places near his­tor­i­cally black col­leges in At­lanta.

Collins said in­creased voter turnout and record par­tic­i­pa­tion caused the long lines. He also said that if there were prob­lems in in­di­vid­ual coun­ties, peo­ple could vote out county elec­tion of­fi­cials in those ar­eas.

The wide-rang­ing bill would, among a host of other things, cre­ate au­to­matic na­tional voter reg­is­tra­tion while ex­pand­ing ac­cess to early and on­line reg­is­tra­tion. It would also in­crease fed­eral sup­port for state vot­ing sys­tems.

But prospects for its pas­sage are murky. While Democrats con­trol the House, Repub­li­cans still hold the Se­nate and White House and it’s un­likely they’d ap­prove the mea­sure.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell slammed the leg­is­la­tion Thurs­day on Twit­ter, say­ing it “pro­poses a mas­sive fed­eral takeover of elec­tions” with­out “any ev­i­dence of cri­sis or emer­gency.”

Ex­pand­ing of­fices, ren­o­vat­ing and mov­ing some prac­tices around — Harbin Clinic will be make a num­ber of changes to its cur­rent lo­ca­tions and which prac­tices re­side in those lo­ca­tions in 2019.

“With any change at the clinic, our goal is to pro­vide timely, proac­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions and the very best ex­pe­ri­ence for pa­tients,” said Harbin Clinic CEO Kenna Stock in a press re­lease. “We will post pe­ri­odic up­dates on our web­site as we get more in­for­ma­tion and the con­struc­tion process evolves.”

Harbin Clinic is in the plan­ning stages for a new med­i­cal of­fice build­ing to be sit­u­ated at the cor­ner of Woodrow Wil­son Way and John Mad­dox Drive.

Cur­rent de­signs call for the ma­jor­ity of med­i­cal care for women and chil­dren to be lo­cated in this new build­ing, in­clud­ing Ans­ley Park Pe­di­atrics, Harbin Clinic Women’s Cen­ter and Harbin Clinic Pe­di­atrics.

Cur­rently the Women’s Cen­ter is at the Physi­cian’s Build­ing 330 Turner Mc­Call Blvd. on the Floyd Med­i­cal Cen­ter cam­pus.

Later this month, Harbin’s urol­ogy prac­tice will re­lo­cate to the build­ing lo­ca­tions at 504 Red­mond Road, which will pro­vide that prac­tice with some room for ex­pan­sion, the re­lease stated. The Heart Cen­ter, which is also lo­cated in the 504 build­ing will con­tinue to re­side there.

Later in 2019, they will be re­lo­cat­ing sev­eral of the prac­tices in their build­ing at 1825 Martha Berry Blvd. Pul­monary medicine, the Sleep Cen­ter and the lab will each move into the build­ing on Martha Berry Boule­vard.

In early 2020, or­tho­pe­dics will re­turn to the build­ing on 1825 Martha Berry Blvd. in a new space cus­tom-de­signed to meet the spe­cial needs of their pa­tients, the re­lease stated. Harbin’s or­tho­pe­dics is cur­rently lo­ca­tion at 330 Turner Mc­Call Blvd. on FMC’s cam­pus.

/ AP-An­drew Harnik

Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., speaks at a news con­fer­ence on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton. A spat over hours-long lines ex­pe­ri­enced by some Ge­or­gia vot­ers bub­bled up in Congress this week. Re­cent elec­tions in Ge­or­gia were crit­i­cized dur­ing a hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton Tues­day. McBath said the lines rep­re­sented un­der­in­vest­ment at best and voter sup­pres­sion at worst.

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