Tonight at 8 p.m. Next Democratic presidential debate. Watch on the cable channels.
Another 39 people voted in advance on Tuesday at the Floyd County Health Department on East 12th Street. That brings the total turnout to all of 70 people of the more than 19,000 eligible to vote in the City Commission races. Voting continues from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Friday and on weekdays through Friday, Nov. 1.
On Tuesday, the elections board set weekend voting for Oct. 26 and 27 at the Rome Civic Center. Hours will be 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. that Saturday and 1 until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The first fumble from the damaged 2019 Rome City Commission election cycle has been recovered but additional concerns also have been raised over the current advance voting site and the potential to add a more convenient second site. There may be hope on that issue as well.
On Tuesday, the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration approved weekend voting at the Rome Civic Center from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, and Sunday, Oct. 27, from 1 until 4 p.m. Board Dr. Chair Tom Rees made it clear the elections office was never asked for a weekend voting option for the city election prior to the vote being “called” earlier this month.
That said, Rees — in addressing “the elephant in the room” at the start of the meeting — said city and county attorneys had discovered the state law requiring the election “call” has been changed and allows for the addition of weekend voting. He announced the weekend voting schedule but reminded the crowd the city of Rome “did not notify us ahead of time” of the desire to have weekend voting this year.
Weekend voting has been a regular feature in recent elections but also has been debated because of expense, turnout (which actually has been strong) and other issues. Past efforts have seen the addition of Sunday voting after a Saturday schedule had been announced. Past elections chair Steve Miller reminded all that weekend voting was acknowledged as a continuing thing in 2015 as long as the city paid for it. He said he was “confused on why there is an issue here.”
Following the announcement, Rees opened the floor up to those who had signed in to address the board.
First up was Charles Love, the North Rome activitist who briefly qualified to run for City Commission. Love was the first of several speakers to address concerns about using the health department on East 12th Street for advance voting vs. more tradition sites such as the building where Tuesday’s meeting was held as well as the civic center. Rees reminded the crowed that the elections board didn’t set the location; that came from a joint city-county meeting. Love and other guests expressed concern about the long travel time to the health department from some areas of town because of bus routes and such.
Daniel Eason also questioned the easy access of the site as did Miller.
Several other quests joined in and then Love returned to the podium, asking the elections board to offer a second advance voting site for the remainder of early voting (now through Nov. 1). There was some discussion about whether that was legal; both city and county attorneys were in the meeting but no conclusion was reached.
City Commissioner Wendy Davis apologized to the elections board on behalf of the city for the miscommunication over weekend voting. She also asked for a second advance voting location, citing public transportation concerns.
Rebecca Moye of the League of Women Voters of Rome and Floyd County also questioned the advance notice of weekend voting, saying the league had raised the issue with the city last spring.
The board said they’ll look at a second location if the city requests it. That apparently is pending.
For nine hours on Monday, teams were on hand to greet those interested in advance voting for the Nov. 5 City Commission election. All of 31 people showed up.
Less than four people an hour (on average) stopped by the Floyd County Health Department on East 12th Street to help decide six City Commission seats and whether to sell alcohol with Sunday brunch beginning at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m.
Granted, it was Columbus Day for some. And a new location for advance voting creates new challenges. But surely more than that were expected. They’ll continue advance voting today from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on each weekday through Nov. 1.
As for weekend voting this cycle, don’t be too quick to assume it will happen. We’ll have the next development on that beginning today at noon as election officials and city officials meet to look for options. It might take a federal injunction to make it happen as it appears inaction on the city’s part means no one asked Elections Chief Robert Brady to set aside a Saturday and Sunday in late October for weekend voting. It isn’t required as there are no federal offices on the November ballot.
Brady shared the following on Monday in response to questions raised over weekend voting. At issue is the “call” for the election to begin with, which sets in stone the schedule, place, timings, etc., of balloting. Says Brady:
The Call by legal definition in O.C.G.A. 21-2-2(3) is: “Call” or “the call,” as used in relation to special elections or special primaries, means the affirmative action taken by the responsible public officer to cause a special election or special primary to be held. The date of the call shall be the date of the first publication in a newspaper of appropriate circulation of such affirmative action. The Call was published in the local newspaper on Oct. 7, 2019.
The Call sets in motion the election. The Call defines the election parameters, (when, where , what times, who is running, any questions on the ballot.) and is the beginning of the election. Once the Call is issued, the election is considered to have begun.
It is only possible to make changes after election has begun, under the direst of emergency circumstances, so nothing will be added or subtracted from published election circumstance as published in the Call.
And lastly, the City did not mention during any of the discussions involved in the election planning any desire to hold Saturday or Sunday voting during the Absentee in Person (early voting) portion of the election so since none is mandated by state law, none were planned.
The city has discussed legal research already conducted that doesn’t preclude setting a weekend voting schedule. But does whatever they found mandate and, overall, trump the “call” for the election that already has been publicized? Or does Brady and the election commission void the previous call and perhaps delay the election?
And what about the choice of locations for advance voting this year? What really went wrong with the traditional locations? More on that today as well.
During Monday’s City Commission meeting, Wendy Davis — who’s not up for election in November — reminded colleagues of the noon meeting today of the elections board. The goal, Davis says, is to get the elections board to find a way to offer weekend voting because “that’s what our voters expect.”
What to know:
Candidate profiles, Q&A for the Ward 1 Rome City Commission hopefuls. Topics: Downtown, economic development, transparency. Also: Today’s the last day to register to vote in Nov. 5 election. Ward 1
Candidate profiles, Q&A for the Ward 3 Rome City Commission hopefuls. Ward 3
Georgia Highlands’ Community Watch interviews with all nine City Commission hopefuls. Questions include economic development, crime and safety, downtown parking, minority business involvement. Video interviews
The Rome ballot includes: The three candidates who receive the most votes in each ward win the seats on the ballot.
J.J. Walker Seifert
Also on the Nov. 5 (and advance/absentee voting) ballot is the “Sunday Brunch” referendum where with city voters will decide whether to start alcohol sales in restaurant at 11 a.m. on Sundays vs. the current 12:30 p.m.
Advance voting, weekdays, now through Friday, Nov. 1. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., health department.
Thursday: 2019 Political Forum for Rome/Floyd County. The event is free and open to the public. Candidates from Wards 1 and 3 are invited to participate. Also 2020 candidates for Floyd County Sheriff will be allowed a brief statement to introduce themselves. The purpose of the forum is to give Rome voters an opportunity to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to them in this election. Attendees ask questions and in exchange, the candidates will be able to answer. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the JoAnn Harbin Community Room, Willingham Gym, 560 N Division St., Rome. A social hour with light refreshments begins at 5 p.m.; the forum begins at 6. Sponsors: Rome/Floyd County NAACP, AARP – Etowah Chapter #4021, Rome Alumnae Chapter- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Northwest Georgia Housing Authority, Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Rome /Northwest Georgia Inc. and 100 Black Men of Rome/Northwest Georgia Inc.
Nov. 5. Election day. Precincts open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Latest political headlines: Click Politics
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From Bartow County:
The elections office: “Advance voting for the Nov. 5 elections in the cities of Cartersville, Emerson, Euharlee and White has begun. Our office will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week for voters residing in any of these municipalities. Bring your photo ID along and cast your ballot early.
“Note: There are no elections in the cities of Adairsville, Kingston, Taylorsville or in Bartow County at large on Nov. 5.”