HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Hiawassee polling precinct was within minutes of closing on Nov. 6, when Sunni Wolfe rushed in to cast a ballot on election night. Wolfe, who spoke on-record with FYN upon exiting the polls, was provided a provisional ballot by election officials due to the fact that Wolfe could not produce photo identification, a requirement in Georgia elections. Wolfe explained to FYN that he had relocated to Towns County from the metro Atlanta area five months prior, and is currently homeless, residing in an area campground. When asked what motivated Wolfe to turn out at the Towns County polls in the nick of time, Wolfe stated that he took an “opportunity” to vote because he had hoped to make his voice heard.
That opportunity resulted in not only a futile vote, due to Wolfe being registered out-of-precinct in Fulton County, but in Wolfe’s arrest shortly after leaving the local polls. Sunni Wolfe was charged with Driving while License Suspended/Revoked after the vehicle he had driven to the voting precinct was reported missing by Wolfe’s girlfriend, an employee working a shift at a Hiawassee restaurant.
According to the arrest report obtained by FYN, Hiawassee Police Department responded to the complaint at 8:10 pm, with law enforcement officers still on scene as Wolfe returned the vehicle to the location in which had been reported missing. Upon explaining to officers that he had “taken the car to go vote” and providing a provisional voter receipt to law enforcement, Wolfe purportedly admitted to officers that his license was suspended, was subsequently placed under arrest, and transported to the Towns County Detention Center. FYN contacted Hiawassee Police Department and learned that Wolfe, too, had conveyed to officers that he was homeless.
FYN briefly corresponded online with Wolfe on Nov. 13, with Wolfe stating that although he was unaware that his vote did not count, “the right to vote was clearly, in fact, in my favor.”
During the 2018 midterm election, a total of 21,190 provisional ballots were cast in Georgia. That number is up from 12,151 provisionals cast in the 2014 midterm. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams filed a federal lawsuit on Sunday, asking that election authorities count certain ballots which would otherwise be rejected for “arbitrary reasons.” Of the nine provisional ballots cast in Towns County, all nine were disqualified due to out-of-precinct voting.
In response to a lawsuit filed by Common Cause Georgia on Nov. 5, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that Georgia cannot certify the election results before Friday at 5 p.m. which falls four days before the Nov. 20 deadline set forth by state law. Current returns show Republican Brian Kemp leading with a margin that would make him Georgia’s governor-elect. Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, however, insists that enough outstanding votes remain to be counted, which she claims could push Kemp below the majority threshold, forcing a Dec. 4 runoff.
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HAYESVILLE, NC – Clay County elected Bobby Deese to serve as their future sheriff on Nov. 6, with Deese garnering 56.6 percent of the votes. Deese, the successor to retiring, two-term Sheriff Vic Davis, states that he intends to meet with employees and the Clay County Board of Commissioners in the immediate future in order to discuss relevant matters.
“I would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support I have received during this election,” Deese expressed on election night, “It’s been a long hard process but the election is now over and it’s time to look toward the future. As your Sheriff, I will work for all the citizens of Clay County and do everything possible to give you a Sheriff’s Office to be proud of. Thank you to Steve Byers for the professionalism and integrity of running a clean campaign. We need more of that in today’s politics. Thank you again. I look forward to the next four years.”
While campaigning, Deese avowed to operate a visible, available, professional , and accountable sheriff’s office. Additionally, Deese stated that he intends to “relentlessly pursue those who are supplying our community with drugs.”
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Election day has come and gone, and the deadline for provisional voters to prove eligibility in the general midterm arrived today. Towns County Board of Elections reported that of the nine provisional ballots cast in Towns County, all were submitted out-of-precinct, meaning that nine local votes will not increase the state sum.
FYN was at the Hiawassee election precinct when one such provisional voter arrived at the polls, minutes before the closing bell on election night. After exiting the ballot box shortly after 8 pm, a man who identified himself as Sunni Wolfe agreed to speak on-record with FYN’s reporter. Wolfe, who could not produce identification for poll workers, claimed to be homeless and living at an undisclosed campground in the Towns County area. Wolfe explained that he left the metro Atlanta area five months prior, and did not have a local address to register. Wolfe was provided a provisional ballot by election officials, and when asked by FYN, voiced no issue with the process. A record request obtained on Nov. 8 revealed that Wolfe was registered in Fulton County, however, resulting in a futile Towns County vote.
Election official Kathy Norton imparted that additional out-of-precinct voters arrived at the Young Harris polling location on election day, including a student attending Young Harris College who claimed that he had received an email stating that his vote would count regardless of a lack of local registration. According to Norton, each voter was provided with a provisional ballot.
“Anyone can vote, but every vote doesn’t always counts,” Towns County Board of Elections Director Tonya Nichols explained, “Georgia law requires voters to cast their ballots in the county in which they are registered.”
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Voters in Towns County were given an option on the Nov. 6 ballot to accept or reject a referendum that would allow licensed establishments to serve alcohol-by-the-pour. A total of 66.67% of citizens favored the decree, with 33.33% opposing the mandate.
A second referendum appeared on the ballot for voters residing within Hiawassee city limits, classified as a “brunch resolution” which will permit Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 am rather than 12:30 pm. The brunch resolution was accepted by 61.41% of voters. A total of 38.59% rejected the brunch bill.
Hiawassee attempted to include a liquor store referendum on the November ballot by collecting the amount of signatures necessary for an allowance. A state requirement to include the referendum on the ballot stipulated that 35% of valid registered voters from the 2016 General Primary election, currently residing within the jurisdiction, must add their names to a petition in a show of support. The computed amount was set at 233 signatures. Of the 304 signatures collected, 181 voters were verifiable by the Board of Elections. The package store petition contained 56 duplicate names, while 64 signatures were shown to be attached to individuals not registered to vote, residing outside of the city limits, or deceased.
Hiawassee aspires to garner the amount of signatures needed to include a package store referendum on a future ballot.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Early voting in the 2018 midterm election came to a close on Friday, and Towns County Board of Elections saw a massive turnout at the Hiawassee polling precinct. Of the 9,386 registered voters in Towns County, 4,030 residents chose to cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s general election. A total of 257 absentee ballots had been returned to the election board as of Friday afternoon.
The 2018 turnout rivals that of the 2016 presidential election. Two years ago, 4,564 of the 8,608 voters registered in Towns County turned up to cast early ballots at the polls, with 420 ballots returned by mail. Midterm elections historically do not draw such a high amount of voters to the ballot box.
FYN reached out to Towns County leaders and gathered their thoughts on the phenomenon.
Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton believes that the south-of-the-border “caravan of criminals” that are headed toward the U.S. border plays a part in the impressive turnout at the Georgia polls. “The future of our nation and our state rides on this election. Anyone being honest about these caravans understands what is at stake. If the left wins, the caravans are just the beginning. If the Republicans stay in, I’m willing to bet they turn around,” Clinton warned, “We must stop this madness or we will cease to be a sovereign nation…They aren’t coming for jobs or safety. Mexico offered those. They sure aren’t coming to be Americans. Those aren’t American flags they are carrying during these border assaults.”
Sheriff Clinton recently endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, reiterating on Friday that Stacey Abrams’ “radical, socialist ideas are extremely dangerous.”
District 8 State House Representative Matt Gurtler is optimistic that Georgia will remain a “red” state, adding that according to the Secretary of State’s office, Georgia has seen the highest early voter turnout in the state’s history during this year’s general election. “Our district is the most active in the state and the most conservative by far,” Gurtler explained, “I expect to see the 8th House District in the lead once again this coming Tuesday, and I believe and have great faith in the people of Georgia, that we will see a ‘red wave’ sweep the entire state.”
While Towns County Republican Party Chair Betsy Young is enthusiastic,the GOP leader believes that the race for Georgia’s next governor, in particular, is tight. “I think this is going to be close, but if only legal voters vote – all Democrats and Republicans – we will win. The area around Atlanta will be heavily Democrat, but I believe some who have never voted anything but Democrat will vote Republican because of two things: hate by liberals and their awful demonstration of it, along with the economy and immigration.”
“The fate of our state and our county is at stake,” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw expressed, “Towns County realizes how important this election is for our future, and I’m very thankful for that.” Commissioner Bradshaw served as Master of Ceremonies at a recent “Get Out the Vote” event sponsored by the Towns County Republican Party.
While the four local leaders agree that the high voter count is good sign for their affiliated political party, the Republicans stressed the importance of an equally healthy turnout at the polls on election day.
Towns County polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Count on FYN to deliver local election results as soon as they become available.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party took to social media in an attempt to persuade against “yes” votes on ballot amendments, including “Marsy’s Law.” Towns GOP Chair Betsy Young shared a letter attributed to Georgia resident Dottie McIntosh Honea, addressed to family and friends.
“Amendments are hard to read and written that way on purpose,” Young stated, later adding, “I almost always vote against all amendments.”
While Honea’s letter included opposition to a taxation amendment, the initial segment focused on the crime victim portion of November’s ballot.
“One Amendment (#4) so-called Marcy’s (sic) Law is particularly ambiguous. The TV ad supporting this amendment is compelling; a victim stating her abuser was let out of prison and she was not notified. She begs the TV audience to help the victim by voting in favor of this amendment. Who wouldn’t want the victim to be helped?,” Honea wrote, “But when the Amendment is read carefully, you will note that it states ‘…the Constitution shall be amended so as to provide ‘certain rights’ to victims against whom a crime has allegedly been perpetrated and allow victims to assert such rights.'”
Honea continued on to assert that the ‘certain rights’ to be granted to crime victims are vague, without clear assurance of notification when a perpetrator is released from prison.
“The victim can assert such rights….what rights? Certain ones? What are they referring to? Will it be left up to a judge to decide what ‘certain rights’ the victim has? No guarantee of being notified of anything. Please do not vote in favor of changing our state Constitution to contain something so non-specific as Amendment #4…’Marcy’s (sic) Law.’ This Amendment will not help Marcy, or you, at all,” Honea concludes.
National opponents of the crime victim amendment warn “Marsy’s Law” could undermine due process.
“Since 2008, a national campaign entitled “Marsy’s Law” has sought to enshrine in state constitutions a specific and lengthy set of victims’ rights,” ACLU Policy Director of New Hampshire Jeanne Hruska stated earlier this year, “Funded by California billionaire Henry Nicholas, the campaign’s goal is to lock its formula into every state constitution and then to amend the U.S. Constitution to include similar victims’ rights. Though well intended, the Marsy’s Law formula is poorly drafted and is a threat to existing constitutional rights. Victims’ rights are not rights against the state. Instead, they are rights against another individual. The Marsy’s Law formula includes the rights to restitution, to reasonable protection, and to refuse depositions and discovery requests, all of which are enforced against the defendant. Such rights do nothing to check the power of the government. In fact, many of the provisions in Marsy’s Law could actually strengthen the state’s hand against a defendant, undermining a bedrock principle of our legal system — the presumption of innocence.
As of April 2018, five states had adopted Marsy’s Law, including California, Ohio, Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Montana passed Marsy’s Law, although it was later ruled unconstitutional, and subsequently, overturned.
Georgia joins Nevada, Oklahoma, and Kentucky in voting on the crime victim amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, dial 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Early voting in the Nov. 6 General election has reached its second week, and with two weeks left until Election Day, the Towns County Board of Elections Office has witnessed a surge in voter participation.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 0ver 1900 voters had cast their ballots at the Hiawassee precinct, and the Election Board considers the amount especially high. Election Board Director Tonya Nichols included an additional electronic voting booth to the three already in use last week, once it became evident that voters would arrive in mass, in an effort to eliminate a wait time.
Towns County Board of Election staff and poller, Kathy Norton, reported a steady stream of voters flowing into the precinct at any given time since early voting began on Oct. 15. “It’s definitely a much higher count than usual during a midterm,” Norton told FYN.
Additional counties in FYN’s area of coverage throughout North Georgia are reporting a similar spike in numbers.
State statistics show a nearly double increase amount in absentee ballots returned in 2018, in comparison to during the 2014 midterm election.
A heavy amount of voters continue to arrive at the Old Rock Jail Musuem, which was once the Hiawassee precinct, suggesting many could be casting ballots for the first time in years.
Towns County Board of Elections is located at 67 Lakeview Circle in Hiawassee. Ballots can be cast Monday through Friday during early voting, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The polls at the four Towns County voting precints will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p,m, on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Towns County Board of Elections asks voters to have thieir photo identification in hand as they reach the registration area.
In addition to five state amendments listed on the ballot, two local referendums related to alcohol sales appear. The first resolution applies to county liquor-by-the-drink sales at licensed establishments. The second choice concerns the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays within Hiawassee city limits, cited as the “Brunch Resolution,” which would allow consumers to purchase spirits at 11 a.m. rather than the currently prescribed 12:30 p.m.
Hiawassee residents will solely have the option to vote on the Brunch Resolution.
Count on FYN to deliver immediate local results as the totals are tallied on Nov. 6.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – While early voter turnout was especially strong in North Georgia throughout the first week of the 2018 General Election, state and local Republican leaders echoed the importance of encouraging friends and family to cast ballots during a Towns County “Get Out The Vote” rally Thursday, Oct. 18 .
A sizeable crowd of constituents attended the town hall meeting, orchestrated by Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young, and Republican member Donna Barrow.
“We all know that after watching the Kavanaugh hearings, and the things that were going on, it’s very scary, and we have to get out the vote..,” Young urged, “We’re speaking to the choir here, we know that, but we want you to reach out.”
Towns County High School Commissioner Seth Fullerton introduced Colonel Dale Sissell, an author and two-time Purple Heart recipient, to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance. Towns County High School student and vocalist Summer Rahn sang “God Bless America,” followed by the National Anthem.
Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw served as Master of Ceremonies, opening the meeting by reciting words attributed to former President Ronald Reagan.