Newscast/Rant: Virus claims 4 more Northwest Georgians; 25 so far. Rome demands more tests. Rants: Election drama, confusion just gets worse.

Newscast/Rant: Virus claims 4 more Northwest Georgians; 25 so far. Rome demands more tests. Rants: Election drama, confusion just gets worse.

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Coronavirus updates:

  • 4 more die in Northwest Georgia on Thursday: 3 in Bartow, one in Floyd. State death toll rises to 412, up 43 in a day. 100 positive tests in Floyd;  355 in the region.
  • Resolution from City Commission demands the governor, state ‘take immediate action to provide for rapid testing be made available’ to area residents.
  • Politics: Georgia’s primary pushed back to June 9 because of coronavirus concerns; had been set for May 19. Absentee ballot requests remain valid.
  • Newscast: Our economy, our jobs, what’s next. Berry economics professor Dr. Frank Stephenson on the impact of the coronavirus on local business.
  • State Labor department swamped with more claims in a week than in all of 2019. Changes at area grocers. A Zoom Rotary meeting with healthcare leaders?
  • Plus our coverage plans for today and throughout the weekend.

Today’s other news:

  • Ware Mechanical Weather Center: Outdoor fire danger today; more storms possible late Sunday into Monday. Easter: Sunny, high of 71.
  • Religion: Good Friday, Easter weekend service guide.

RANT OF THE DAY: Rock the vote.

In more than 40 years of journalism and a political news follower for half a century, we’ve never seen anything with the amount of drama surrounding the 2020 election cycle.

Even as the final votes from the 2019 municipal elections were being tallied, all eyes had shifted to a very robust state and local primary in 2020 as well as the presidential sweepstakes in March – with a November finale looking pretty interesting as well.

But how things have changed. Consider:

  • With Johnny Isakson’s midterm retirement in 2019, we’re dealing with two U.S. Senate races in Georgia this season. The governor’s appointment to succeed Isakson in turn sparked a less-than-civil war among Republicans.
  • S. Rep. Tom Graves stunned the region by announcing he wouldn’t run again, fueling nine Republican hopefuls and one Democrat. This one quickly got as wild as the Isakson Senate race.
  • We switched to new voting machines starting in March – which actually are easier to use than the old ones but remember, as a society, we hate change.
  • The presidential preference primary was set in March, a few weeks after Super Tuesday. Translation: It was somewhat meaningless as the herd of Democrats had been thinned to single digits. Plus, Republicans never let anyone but Trump on the GOP ballot to begin with. So much for democracy.
  • Even as advance voting started for the presidential preference primary, the coronavirus threat was erupting. Two weeks in, voting halted and the presidential primary was shifted to May 19 with the state and local edition.
  • As a precaution, the Secretary of State’s office mailed 6.9 million absentee ballot requests to Georgia’s registered voters. Immediately, it sparked complaints. How dare anyone try to vote at home?
  • Now, even as voters are returning those absentee requests – which will result in ballots being mailed to their homes — there comes another curve. The listless presidential primary and the red-hot state and local primary have been moved back three weeks, from May 19 to June 6. This suggestion was made weeks ago but, as with anything related to the pandemic, our state remains reactive rather than proactive.
  • This push back creates a need for more campaign finances for candidates — even as contributions dry up with all eyes on the coronavirus. There’s an interesting article on this in today’s AJC, by the way.
  • With this voting schedule, and at least two key local races heading into runoffs, we’ll be voting as kids go back to school in August – assuming schools reopen.
  • And in November we’ll see exactly what the coronavirus pandemic has meant in terms of political stability or liability.

In summary, you’d almost think there are people pushing all this to perhaps confuse voters and, in turn, supress the vote. Surely that wouldn’t happen.

Regardless, this election cycle will be the most unique one any of us have seen since the hanging chads of 2000. But will we have chads to hang? Then again, the Rome City Commission vote was a little suspect last year as well.

One thing is for sure: Thank the people wearing those “I voted” stickers in June, August and November. They will have endured one heck of a challenge and the sticker indeed will be a badge of honor.

Better yet, don’t just salute them – join them. Your future depends on it.


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