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GEORGIA — Democrats are betting a boost in voter registration and suburban turnout will help former vice president Joe Biden maintain a slim lead over President Donald Trump as Georgia voters cast their ballots Tuesday. The state's 16 electoral votes are crucial for both candidates, and its two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot Nov. 3 are also highly prized.
Voters are headed to the polls Nov. 3 to make their choice in the presidential election, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, as well as state constitutional amendments and local tax referendums.
Georgia has emerged as a key battleground state in this presidential election, and both Trump and his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, have campaigned hard in the Sunshine State in the final weeks leading up to Nov. 3. Trump was in the state Sunday night and assured his supporters of victory.
His aides told Trump he had the state "made." "They said 'sir you don't have to come to Georgia. We have it made,'" the president said.
Former president Barack Obama was set to hold a drive-in rally Monday afternoon in Atlanta to turn out the vote for Biden, as well as Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
The former vice president campaigned in the Peach State on Tuesday, which CNN said was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has done so since Bill Clinton in 1996. Clinton lost Georgia then after having won it in 1992.
Biden pushed to flip Georgia to blue with stops Tuesday in Atlanta and Warm Springs. The vice president again bashed Trump for giving up on efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic. "He's swaggered. And he's surrendered," Biden said, according to an Associated Press report.
The latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, released Sunday, showed Biden with less than 1 percentage point of a lead over Trump in Georgia, 47.8 percentage points to 47.4. A CNN poll released Saturday said 49 percent of voters polled there said they support Biden, while 46 percent said they back Trump.
The final Emerson College pollbefore the election finds Trump has 49 percent support in the state, with Biden a percentage point behind at 48 percent. Two percent of voters plan to vote for someone else and 2 percent are undecided.
Biden leads Trump among independent voters in Georgia 52 percent to 35 percent, the poll said. The majority (72 percent) of those who did not vote in 2016 and the majority (56 percent) of voters who voted third party in 2016 are supporting Biden this time.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. If you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot.
U.S. Senate Races
Both of Georgia's U.S. Senate seats, currently held by Republicans, are also on the ballot, and experts said one or both races could go to runoffs next month.
Sen. David Perdue appeared with Trump on Sunday, instead of attending the last scheduled Senate debate. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff's attacks against Perdue during Wednesday's debate went viral, and Perdue backed out of the final debate the next day.
"It's not just that you're a crook, Senator," Ossoff said, referring to Perdue's controversial stock trades (the senator has denied wrongdoing, saying that all transactions are handled by a third-party investment adviser). "It's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent."
Ossoff denounced Perdue for voting four times to allow health insurance companies to forgo coverage of pre-existing conditions like asthma.
Perdue accused Ossoff of being a "rubber stamp" for liberals' wishes and of hiding his true "radical socialist agenda."
In the Emory College poll, Ossoff leads Perdue 47 percent to 46 percent. Other polls show the men both polling at 47 percent, which could send that race to a runoff.
In false ads that have deluged Georgia TV markets, Perdue accused Ossoff of wanting to defund the police and said the Democrat receives support from the Communist Party USA. Ossoff has said he does not want to defund the police and the claim about the Communist Party USA is "flatly false," the Associated Press has previously reported.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler — who refers to herself as a "100 percent Trump voting record" — is also expected to greet Trump in Rome. The wealthy businesswoman is in a crowded race for her first full term after she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in January.
A new poll for WSB-TV shows Loeffler trailing in the open Senate race with Democrat Raphael Warnock in the lead at 37 percent, Loeffler next at 25 percent and Rep. Doug Collins at 23 percent. If none of the candidates receives 50 percent of the vote, the race will go to a runoff between the top two finishers.
Top Congressional Races
Two races for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are a contrast in Georgia's past struggles for civil rights and the shift by some in the Republican Party to court supporters in the murky world of social media.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the presumptive winner of a U.S. Congressional seat on Tuesday, has drawn national fire for supporting QAnon conspiracy theories, yet she appears almost certain to win. Her only Democratic challenger dropped out of the race in September.
Last month, Greene endorsed Loeffler.
Loeffler cited her opposition to abortion and her support of 2nd Amendment rights as other traits she shared with Greene. "And just like Marjorie, I've taken on the radical left, cancel culture and fake news media — and won," Loeffler said.
Over the summer, Georgia Republicans distanced themselves from Greene after Politico discovered Facebook videos showing her expressing Islamophobic and anti-Semitic opinions. Still, Greene handily won the Republican nomination in an August runoff to represent Georgia's 14th Congressional District.
Another race to watch is the 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which had been held by the late civil rights icon John Lewis. Lewis died from pancreatic cancer in July.
President Trump pardoned Stanton-King in February for her role in a car theft ring that led to a 2004 conviction on federal conspiracy charges and two years in prison, reported WABE.
Since King’s release from prison in 2005, the celebrated owner of Stanton Publishing House and Reality TV star of the BET Network docu-series “From the Bottom Up” has formed several organizations dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system and supporting returning citizens, according to her biography.
A special election in December will choose who fills Lewis' seat through the end of 2020.
GA Constitutional Amendments, Referendum
Statewide, Georgians will have the opportunity to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments and a referendum. These are the amendments, with explanations by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger:
The wording of the ballot questions is available on sample ballots found at mvp.sos.ga.
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?"
Summary: This proposal authorizes the Georgia General Assembly to require that fees or taxes collected for some specific intended public purpose be used as so intended. It requires the law to identify the specific public purpose, name the state agency to administer the funds, require the agency to make annual reports of revenues and expenses, and automatically end the fee or tax within ten years.
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States?"
Summary: This proposal waives state and local sovereign immunity so as to allow citizens to sue the State of Georgia, its departments and other agencies, and its local governments in superior courts and authorizes superior courts to order state and local officers and employees to cease violations of the Georgia Constitution, the laws of the State of Georgia, or the United States Constitution, beginning with violations occurring on or after January 1, 2021. It requires that such suits be brought only against the State or Georgia, or in the case of a local government, against the specific local government.
"Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes for all real property owned by a purely public charity, if such charity is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and such real property is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by such charity to individuals using loans that shall not bear interest?"
Summary: This proposal authorizes a new exemption from ad valorem taxes for all real property owned by a purely public charity, if such charity is exempt from federal taxation and such property is used only for building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by such charity to individuals using zero-interest loans.