Georgia House Republicans released their version of new House District boundaries on Wednesday as the legislature assembled in Atlanta to create new maps for the state House, Senate, and U.S. Congress.
Oconee County would continue to be split between two Districts, numbered 120 and 121, if the Republican map is approved, but Clarke County would be split between four districts, 120, 121,122, and 124, rather than the three at present.
The new 120th, replacing the current 117th represented at present by Republican Houston Gaines, would be simplified, made up of Oconee, Clarke, and Jackson counties, but not including parts of Barrow, as is the case at present for the 117th.
The new 121st, replacing the 119th, represented by Republican Marcus Wiedower, would become more dominated by Oconee County. The 119th is about evenly split between the two counties at present.
The Georgia Senate also released a new map for that body on Wednesday, and Oconee County would continue to be whole in the new 46th Senate District, but the District would include more of Clarke County and less of Walton County than at present.
Analysis of votes in Tuesday’s election by mode of voting shows that the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Oconee County lost because of heavy, negative voting on election day.
The referendum passed in early in-person voting and in absentee balloting.
That analysis also shows that Jared Strickland received a higher percentage of the vote for Council Post 5 in North High Shoals after three vulgar and sexist Snapchat messages linked to his campaign were made public than he did in early voting before the messages were disseminated.
The Republican House and Senate maps released on Wednesday have a much higher probability of being adopted by the Republic controlled General Assembly than the ones released by Democrats last week.
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The Democratic House Caucus map would split Oconee County into three districts.
The bulk of the county would be in a 112th District with Walton and Morgan counties. Another section of the county would be in the 117th with Clarke County.
A final sliver would be joined with Clarke, Oglethorpe, Greene, and Taliaferro counties in the 120th.
In the Democratic Senate Caucus map, all of Clarke County would be joined with the entirety of Oconee County and parts of Walton County in the 46th Senate District.
Democrats also released a map for the U.S. Congressional Districts in which Oconee County would be part of a new 9th District, rather than the 10th, as it is at present.
The Republican Senate released a Congressional map on Sept. 27.
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The Republican map is not radically different from the Democratic map, though the Republicans retained the number as the 10th.
In both maps, Oconee and Clarke counties would form the core of a district stretching from metropolitan Atlanta to the Savannah River.
The Republican House did not release a new Congressional District map on Wednesday.
The new 120th House District proposed by the Republicans on Wednesday would contain 58,925 residents, 586 under the ideal of 59,511.
The 121st would contain 59,609 residents, 98 over the ideal for the 180 House Districts.
The 46th Senate District would contain 190,312 residents, 972 under the ideal for the state’s 56 senate districts of 191,284.
In voting on the 1 percent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST), referendum, 30.9 percent of the ballots were cast Advanced In-Person, 2.5 percent were cast Absentee By Mail, and 66.5 percent were cast on Election Day.
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Two votes, labeled Provisional but ultimately counted, made up the remaining 0.1 percent.
In Advanced In-Person voting, 54.6 percent voted in favor of the referendum, and among Absentee By Mail, 56.8 percent voted in favor.
On Election Day, only 43.5 percent voted in favor of the referendum, with the remaining 56.5 voting against.
The final vote tally was 47.2 percent in favor and 52.8 percent against. Turnout was 3,253 voters or 10.7 percent of the county’s 30,527 active voters.
In the March 16 referendum on extension of the 1 percent Education Local Option Sales Tax, only 1,925 voter cast a ballot, or 6.3 percent of the 30,516 active voters.
But 65.1 percent (1,254) of those voters cast a ballot Advanced In-Person, 1.8 percent (35) cast an Absentee Ballot, and only 33.0 percent (636) cast a ballot on Election Day
In that referendum, 83.6 percent of the voters approved of the 1 percent sales tax.
In the Watkinsville Mayoral Race, Rebecca Billings did better against incumbent Mayor Brian Brodrick in Election Day Voting (31.9 percent) than in Advanced In-Person voting (21.8 percent). Billings got 30.8 percent of the 13 Absentee By Mail votes.
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In the end, Brodrick won 72.7 percent to Billings’ 27.3 percent.
Challenger Carolyn Maultsby also did better against incumbent Connie Massey in the Post 2 Council race in Election-Day voting. She got 30.7 percent of the vote on Election day, compared with 17.0 in Advanced In-Person and 7.1 percent of Absentee By Mail.
In the final vote, Maultsby got 24.0 percent of the vote to Massey’s 76.0 percent.
Among the Watkinsville Council candidates, only Brodrick indicated he received more than $2,500 in campaign funds and thus was required to file a campaign finance statement.
Brodrick said he had received $4,223 in contributions. In the most recent cycle, he had received only $1,000, half of it in contributions of $100 or less.
City Clerk Julie Klein said as of Wednesday afternoon Maultsby had not filed a statement regarding campaign finances or an affidavit saying she did not exceed $2,500 in contributions. The forms were due on Oct. 25.
Bogart, North High Shoals
While Watkinsville and North High Shoals contract with the county Office of Elections and Registration, Bogart, which is partially in Clarke County, runs its own elections.
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Jenny Jordan, election supervisor for the city, told me in an email on Wednesday that Incumbent David Kilpatrick and Greg Maddox were the top vote getters in both early voting and on election day.
The city had no absentee ballots submitted, she said.
In North High Shoals, 118 voters cast a ballot in the contested Post 5 Council race, and Meagan Cundiff got 83.1 percent of the vote to 16.9 percent for Jared Strickland.
Only 34 votes had been cast in early voting, and none were cast absentee.
Among the early voters, 30 (88.2) went for Cundiff, and 4 (11.8 percent) were for Strickland.
On election day, Cundiff received 68 (81.0 percent) of the 84 votes cast, and Strickland received 16 (19.0 percent).
Social Media Clips
After early voting ended on Friday, three messages linked to Strickland from Snapchat, one a video clip in which Strickland is speaking, began circulating on social media.
The messages attacked The Oconee Enterprise and Cundiff, and they were vulgar, explicit, and sexist.
Elections in the county’s four cities are nonpartisan, though the candidates can have partisan identities outside those races.
Strickland is the son of Steven Strickland, who was chair of the Oconee County Republican Party until earlier this year.
Republican Party Response
On Tuesday, the Oconee County Republican Party put a statement on its Facebook Page that did not mention Strickland by name.
“The Oconee County Republican Party, as a group, does not endorse candidates for non-partisan local elections or self-proclaimed Republican candidates running in primary races,” the statement read.
“Not every candidate running on a conservative platform is a member of our organization,” it continued.
“Candidates of all political affiliations, exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, make statements throughout their campaigns, some good and some horrible,” the statement says.
“The consequences of their actions and statements are theirs alone to bear,” according to the statement.
“The ultimate arbiter of the election process is the voter when they cast their vote at the polls on election day and since today is election day we encourage every Oconee County voter to go the polls and vote,” the statement ends.