Political Notes — Georgia on verge of exceeding 2012’s early voting

[private]Sometime today, if they haven’t done it already, Georgia voters will probably exceed the number of early ballots that were cast prior to the 2012 general election.

There were 1,959,941 early ballots in 2012, according to figures from the secretary of state’s office.

As of Wednesday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp says the number of early votes this year is 1,903,544 (1,748,726 in person and 154,818 mailed in). With two more days of early voting set for Thursday and Friday, it appeared the total would easily surpass 2 million early votes.

The demographic makeup of that early vote has changed somewhat since 2012, say Eric Bradner and Marshall Cohen of CNN. They calculate that a lower percentage of blacks are voting this time around:

The Peach State doesn’t register voters by party, so it’s impossible to know whether more Democrats or Republicans have voted.

But if Clinton is going to pull off the upset here, she’ll need strong turnout from African-Americans — and there are signs that their share of the vote has dropped a bit from where it was at this point in 2012. Black voters made up 36% of Georgia’s early voting population at this stage of the 2012 race, compared to 31% this year.

Trump’s support among Latino voters has increased by about 7 points in the New Latino Voice (NLV) tracking poll from Florida International University and the Hispanic mobile advertising company Adsmovil in recent weeks, although he still trails Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin:

In the tracking poll’s 27th week (October 24–31), Trump’s 17.2% support with Latino voters was his highest number since early June. Despite seeing his best performance in the NLV in about four months, the Republican candidate still trails Hillary Clinton (73.5%) by about 56 points with Latino voters in this week’s poll . . .

Over the course of the tracking poll, Trump has had support numbers as low as 10.6% and Clinton’s numbers hit almost 85% in early October. However, since the October 3-10 poll, Trump has seen his support increase by almost seven points (10.6% to 17.2%) and Clinton has seen her support decrease by close to 11 points (84.3% to 73.5%).

Atlanta’s “Resilience” officer

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has appointed former legislator Stephanie Stuckey Benfield as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new position that will direct the city’s response to such catastrophic events as hurricanes, fires, and floods, and to slower-developing “stresses” like water shortages, homelessness, and unemployment.

“Since joining the city, Stephanie has lead and implemented programs and initiatives which have elevated the city of Atlanta as a global leader in sustainability,” Reed said.

“As chief resilience officer, I’ll be working to unite people, projects, and priorities to drive action on the critical stresses and shocks our city faces, such as aging infrastructure, economic opportunity, food scarcity and transportation,” Benfield said.

Feds release Walker from probation

Former state senator Charles Walker of Augusta has been released from all aspects of federal imprisonment and probation resulting from his fraud convictions.

As reported in the Augusta Chronicle:

In an order signed Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. granted Walker’s request to be released early from the federal form of probation called supervised release.

“Another year of supervised release is unlikely to provide any significant additional protection to the public from further crime, but it would most certainly and unnecessarily expend resources of the judiciary,” Bowen wrote of his decision to allow Walker early release Monday . . .

A federal grand jury indicted Walker on 137 counts on June 23, 2004. He was convicted of 127 counts on Nov. 29, 2005, and eventually sentenced to 121 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $150,000 fine, $698,047 in restitution and the mandatory special assessment of $127,000.

Walker served 96 months in prison and the rest of his incarceration term in a halfway house and on home confinement, Bowen wrote. Walker also paid all that he owed and has had no violations since supervised release began Sept. 26, 2014, Bowen noted.

Ballinger is the challenger

State Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) is telling House colleagues she will run for vice chair of the majority caucus, a position currently held by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta).

House Republicans will caucus on Nov. 14 to elect new officers for the next legislative term.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: black voters , Charles Walker , Donald Trump , early voting , Hillary Clinton , Latino voters , Mandi Ballinger , Stephanie Stuckey Benfield