Tag Archives: Brian Kemp

Ballot Access Legislation Coming in 2015?

Over the course of the last election cycle, I spent a lot time complaining about the need for ballot access reform. Georgia is currently rated 50th (that’s worst, for those of you playing at home) in the nation for ballot access for third-party candidates, or “independents” since our state only “recognizes” two political parties under election law. “Rogue candidates.” The rebels without a cause. What it means to be recognized as a political party is also defined by state law.

Georgia currently requires these candidates to obtain signatures from 5% of prospective voters. If you’re running for Congress, that’s about 18,000 signatures – and no third-party has been on a general election Congressional ticket since 1943. Whether you’re running for county commission or Governor, you have 180 days to collect the signatures and then turn them in accordance with the qualifying period outlined specifically for independent candidates. This mess unfolded publicly for both Jeff Amason in House District 21(who obtained far more than 5%) and  candidates like Bill Bozarth in Atlanta during the last general election. There is no doubt the process is a bureaucratic, unequal mess.

And we’ve sort of tried. During the 2011-12 legislation session, Secretary of State Brian Kemp recommended by way of Rep. Mark Hamilton and HB 949, along with many other ballot access reform initiatives, a reduced number of signatures required for third-party candidates. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction. The legislature denied this and passed almost every other ballot reform measure in HB 899.

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Support for fewer barriers to entry goes back further than that, though. A similar bill was introduced by the late Rep. Bobby Franklin and, wait for it,…David Ralston, pre-speakership days. In fact, Ralston was the first signer on HB 927 in the 2005-2006 legislative session. The bill, which is worded in so many ways that I adore, states the following:

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Consistent petition standards for all public offices. What a novel thought. The legislation reduced the number of signatures required to 2% of voters based on numbers from the last election. While this legislation is contradictory in and of itself, seeing as though ‘consistent’ would imply that everyone, even “Republicans” and “Democrats” are subjected to the same rules, the mere introduction of the legislation indicates that we have a problem. In September, 58% of Americans favored third parties. It’s time to stop ignoring this issue.

Whether legislation should eliminate signatures for an ‘unrecognized’ party, or we stop using parties on the ballot (Georgia Washington didn’t like them!), or we start messing around with the qualifying fees as a barrier to entry is still up for debate. One thing is for sure: no candidate should have to sue the state to be on the ballot. That’s not a government run by The People and Georgia needs to do better. Perhaps we can shoot for 49th. Regardless of whether you will ever vote for a third-party or not, the inequity based on political affiliation is resounding.

What legislation will actually look like if it comes about in the upcoming session -if it even does- is still to be determined. Rumor has it that legislation will indeed be introduced, perhaps by Rep. John Pezold (R-Columbus). But you know what they say about rumors: Only good ones are spiced with truth.

So I Voted on Saturday…

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Let’s first establish a few foundations before we get started:

  • I don’t take any of my voting responsibilities lightly. While my U.S. Senate vote was decided early this summer, I mulled over the Governor’s race for quite some time. So much so, that I stood in front of the ballot box for a solid 10 minutes before pressing the button. The decision did not come easily.
  • The fun and excitement over the chance to influence your government is nonexistent and exercising your vote is less than exhilarating. This election cycle has been atrocious. My hope for insiders is dwindling.
  • I don’t believe anyone deserves a vote. You either earn it or you don’t.
  • As a voter, I’m a hard sell. The ‘straight R thing‘, as we know, doesn’t butter my biscuit and neither does the rhetoric of ‘It’s the most important election of our lifetime’. The rhetoric just makes me dig my feet deeper in the mud to oppose what you’re saying. I’m still open-minded enough to be convinced, but I need solid reasons. Paint me something pretty.

So, with that…

U.S. Senate
I voted for Amanda Swafford. Let me offer a little ‘why’ context since this has easily been the bane of my existence in the GOP this cycle. I  couldn’t hold my nose to vote for Perdue because ‘we need control of the Senate’. Should he lose (though I don’t believe he will), feel free to blame me, shame me, or kick me out…but his complacency with Dodd-Frank and his belief that the Second Amendment has exceptions were both deterrents for me. (While I understand he will likely never address ‘campus carry’ in office, a principled conservative would never make such statements. And I fear for what is beyond that statement) I’ve also not seen him address what he believes the role of a U.S. Senator to be or the effect of the repeal of the 17th Amendment. Amanda Swafford proven to me that she has a better understanding of these things, and that is why she earned my vote. It was not a wasted vote.
(I tried really hard to not put Perdue down while lifting Swafford up, but it was difficult. His team and his supporters with their shaming people for thinking differently played a huge role in my abandonment of the ship. They never tried to win me over, only shut me up. And also “Because not Michelle Nunn, therefore Perdue” has never been an acceptable reason for me.)

Governor of Georgia
Nathan Deal
I know, you’re all shocked that I have the ‘mental capacity to think critically‘ about the role of this office and the repercussions of a Republican not holding it. (I would like to make it perfectly clear that my reason for voting for Deal has nothing to do with the reasons Rep. Coomer offered and if there was ever a deterrent to steer anyone from Deal, it was that dismal interaction.) I would also like to say that I still believe our legislature would be much more conservative if we had a democrat governor, despite the fact that I don’t want a democrat governor. I have, though, seen first-hand that the Governor can be open-minded with the right amount of pressure coming from the right places on legislation. I don’t buy into the attacks from the democrats simply because one man cannot fix everything – similar to Obama not being responsible for everything. I do believe – ethics aside- Georgia is a great place to build a business and raise a family. Deal can’t fix it all nor is he the cause of it all.
Additionally, the rest of our state isn’t solid enough to host a Dem Governor. I do want to see legislation signed into law, so Jason Carter was never an option for me. Recently, Andrew Hunt made a few teensy-bit-too-progressive statements for my small L leanings, however, I support his initiative as a 3rd party candidate and am thankful for his purpose this cycle. I also still hope a large percentage of people vote for him.

Lieutenant Governor
SKIP.
His relationship with the Board of Regents, among other things, makes it impossible to support Casey Cagle. And I won’t if he runs for Governor. Write that down.
(I actually wrote in Delvis Dutton. Something about LG office reform legislation.)

Secretary of State
I did cast a vote for Brian Kemp because I can’t imagine the atrocities of a liberal Secretary of State. I also don’t think he’s done a horrible job with his budget. I am hopeful for a working website and smaller photos in a second term.

Attorney General
While Sam Olens hasn’t exactly been kind to me, my friends in the political realm tell me he is incredibly responsive and I respect the battles he has chosen to fight on behalf of our state. I know he has a tough job considering synchronization between his office and the legislature is virtually non-existent. He has done a good job on the battlefield.

Commissioner of Agriculture
SKIP.
Between the battle against Glennville farmer Delbert Bland and his Liberty onion war and the whole bout bringing corporate farmers to the raw milk hearings during the 2014 session to squash conversation concerning freedom of choice, I found it was best to sit on my hand in this race. (If you would like me to elaborate on some of the food freedom problems, email me.)

Commissioner of Insurance
Ted Metz, a Libertarian. The incumbent, Ralph Hudgens, lost my vote several weeks ago and here’s why. The photo below is from an elevator in my office building taken 10/24/14. You can see that the permit is expired and by several months. I have phoned Mr. Hudgens’ office not once, but twice in the last month – both following the times I was trapped in said elevator. *Twice* I have not received a call back. (I recognize the responsibility on the property but clearly there is a disconnect) Responsiveness is key and it will cost you votes.

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State School Superintendent
Richard Woods because I am looking for a candidate who will oppose intervention of the federal government at all stages whether it be guidelines, standards, recommendations or mandates. I also met him in person during the primary and liked what he had to say.

Commissioner of Labor
Finally, a person for whom I was proud to cast a vote. Mark Butler has done nothing but make the Department of Labor more efficient… from labor costs within the office to streamlined electronic processes (which were lacking before)…he deserves a slow clap. He has earned my vote for another 4 years.

Public Service Commissioner 
Doug Everett (R)
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (R) 
Because, meh.

State Senate District 6
Hunter Hill. He’s doing just fine.

State Representative District 52
Joe Wilkinson, bless his heart, was one of a handful of Republicans who voted against the comprehensive gun bill during the last session, and while I respect his ability to represent the great city of Sandy Springs all the way from his satellite constituent services office in St. Simons, I just couldn’t vote for him. I left that baby blank.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

A-  To prohibit an increase in the state income tax in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415)
Yes. Obviously.

B- Adding reckless driving penalties or fees to the brain and spinal injury trust fund (House Resolution 1183)
No. I don’t support imposing more fees so they may be added to another fund. If you read the resolution, you’ll see that this language is a tad, and by a ‘tad’ I mean ‘wildly’, misleading.

C- Allows property owned by the University System of Georgia and operated by providers of student housing and other facilities to remain exempt from taxation.
No.  — I don’t like “other facilities” because it is not specific enough and equally, I am rather tired of the USG and their special privileges while everyone else is taxed into oblivion. It may impact tuition, but enough is enough.

I want this cycle to be over so bad I can’t stand it. I’m tired of everyone arguing over candidates and I’m ready to go back to just disliking people for who they are, not their politics.

It would be accurate to say that I probably lost a little bit of my soul on Saturday. But not showing up to the polls is not protest, it is surrender. And I will never do that.

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