Election Day 2016: Georgia

Nov 8, 2016

11:33 p.m.

Trump has won Georgia.

10:39 p.m.

Once Georgia voters got past the Clinton-Trump presidential showdown at the top of the ballot Tuesday, they still had plenty of races to settle — from picking a new congressman in west Georgia to deciding whether to impose a special tax on strip clubs.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson cruised to a third term over Democratic challenger Jim Barksdale. The Republican incumbent is well established in Georgia politics, having held various offices since 1977.

Further down the ballot, eight U.S. House incumbents faced opposition, and a Republican former mayor won a contested race to fill the seat of a retiring GOP congressman. There are also four amendments to Georgia's constitution to consider.

Here is a look at key down-ballot races across the state on Election Day.

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REPLACING REP. WESTMORELAND

West Georgia voters elected a Republican former mayor to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who is leaving Congress after six terms.

Republican Drew Ferguson, a dentist and former mayor of West Point, won the 3rd District seat Tuesday. The district was drawn to favor Republicans, and Westmoreland won his last contested campaign with 69.5 percent of the vote in 2010.

Ferguson's opponent, Democrat Angela Pendley of Grantville, reported raising no cash for the race. Ferguson raised more than $1.1 million.

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CONGRESSIONAL CHALLENGES

Republican U.S. Reps. Austin Scott of Tifton and Rick Allen of Augusta easily overcame Democratic challengers.

Six more of Georgia's incumbent congressmen faced opposition, though upsets appeared unlikely.

Democrats also signed up to challenge Republican Reps. Tom Price of Roswell, Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville and Barry Loudermilk of Cassville. All of the incumbents represent districts drawn to favor GOP candidates, and none of their challengers raised much money to put up a fight.

Likewise, Democratic Reps. Sanford Bishop of Columbus, Hank Johnson of Lithonia and John Lewis of Atlanta all face Republican opponents in districts generally considered safe for Democrats.

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STATE LEGISLATURE

Two state lawmakers who won special elections last year to fill vacancies in the Legislature are back on the ballot.

State Rep. Taylor Bennett is trying to keep metro Atlanta's 80th District in Democratic hands in a race with Republican Meagan Hanson. The GOP previously held the seat. Similarly, Republican state Sen. JaNice Van Ness hopes to defend her 43rd District seat in metro Atlanta, which was vacated by a Democrat last year. Van Ness faces Democrat Tonya Anderson.

In a controversial south Georgia state House race, Democrats have put their hopes in an independent candidate to topple a Republican incumbent. GOP Rep. Gerald Greene faces the Rev. Kenneth Zachary in the 151st District. Zachary was recruited to run as an independent after Democrat James Williams was told he lived outside the district and was disqualified.

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STRUGGLING SCHOOLS

An amendment to Georgia's constitution that would empower the state to take over low-performing schools has placed Gov. Nathan Deal in a battle with teacher unions and parent-teacher associations.

The proposal would allow an appointed superintendent accountable to the governor to place failing schools in an "opportunity school district" and convert them into charter schools, overhaul management or close them.

Deal says the amendment would help children trapped in schools that have consistently failed to meet standards. Groups including the Georgia Association of Educators and the Georgia PTA say it would usurp local control of those schools.

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JUDICIAL WATCHDOGS

Another amendment would dismantle the state's independent judicial watchdog agency, letting state lawmakers recreate the agency and exert control over it.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created in 1972 to investigate and resolve complaints of ethical misconduct by judges. In the past decade, the commission's actions have resulted in more than 60 judges leaving the bench. They include judges accused of sexual harassment and one who pointed a gun at people in court.

Amendment supporters say the commission's independence has enabled it to force out judges without due process. Lester Tate, a former commission chairman, says the proposal is politically motivated and would let judges facing complaints seek favors from their legislators.

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STRIP CLUBS AND FIREWORKS

An amendment to increase penalties for human trafficking crimes would also impose a new tax on strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses. The money would help pay for care for child victims of sexual exploitation.

Another proposed amendment would dedicate the existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks to funding trauma care at hospitals, firefighter equipment and training and other public safety efforts.

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By Russ Bynum and Kate Brumback,  Associated Press

9:22 p.m.

According to the Associated Press, Sen. Johnny Isakson has been re-elected. 

8:48 p.m.

Republican Rep. Rick Allen has been elected to a sophomore term in eastern Georgia's 12th Congressional District.

7:58 p.m.

Georgia Republicans await results at Atlanta watch party

Results have begun trickling in after Georgia polls closed Tuesday. Georgians steadily visited the polls, shaping whether the state will stay Republican red or go to a Democrat for the first time in more than 20 years.

Republicans in the state remain confident they can keep Georgia's 16 electoral votes in Donald Trump's column.

Hillary Clinton's supporters hope Trump's unpopularity with minority voters and Republican-leaning women has given her a slim chance in a Southern state. Former president Bill Clinton is the last Democrat to take Georgia. That was in 1992.

Public polling suggests Trump is clinging to a small lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Georgia. Georgia has been skipped over in the final push to election day as Trump and Clinton focused on must-win states elsewhere.

Three of Trump's children visited the state in late October, but the candidate and his running mate Mike Pence haven't swung through in months. Democrats are leaning on Georgia officials and visiting celebrities at early-voting events targeting minorities, women and LGBT voters. Clinton herself last visited in February, with running mate Tim Kaine and Bill Clinton making brief public stops while in Atlanta for fundraisers.

President Barack Obama lost Georgia to John McCain by six points and to Mitt Romney by eight. Democrats here will be watching Clinton's performance closely and say a closer loss than Obama's contests will prove Georgia is headed for battleground state status in future years.

The state's demographics are on track to make Democrats more competitive, as more minorities move to the state and the percentage of white registered voters continues to decline. But experts say the numbers alone don't make Georgia poachable for Clinton this year.

Republicans are touting a robust state operation that helped sweep every statewide office for the party in 2010 and again in 2014, including U.S. Sen. David Perdue's victory over Michelle Nunn and Gov. Nathan Deal's win over Jason Carter.

Warren Strickler had a simple reason for choosing Trump: "He isn't Hillary."

The 60-year-old real estate agent lives in Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb. He said he generally votes for Republican or Libertarian candidates. He didn't support Trump in the primary, instead opting for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but said he considers Clinton corrupt and doesn't agree with her policies either.

Debra Sindler also couldn't support Clinton. But the 60-year-old real estate agent didn't feel good about voting for Trump, wrestling with the decision even as she walked to the polls in Savannah on Tuesday. Ultimately, Sindler said she backed the Republican based on the Supreme Court.

Should Clinton win the White House, Sindler said she plans to accept the result and move on.

"I'm not going to move to Canada. I'm not going to die," Sindler said. "It is what it is."

Democrat Leslie Pineyro, a 37-year-old lawyer, never wavered about casting a ballot for Clinton.

"It's just a clear choice," she said after voting with her Argentine-born husband in Atlanta's Candler Park neighborhood. "I wouldn't say it's a vote for a lesser of two evils. I'm actually a strong Hillary supporter."

Clinton, she said, has shown a strong commitment to public service and has decades of experience to draw on.

Karen Taylor, 52, also cast a ballot for Clinton in a northern suburb of Atlanta based on the former secretary of state's experience. Taylor, a fourth-grade teacher, said voting for Clinton made her proud but admitted feeling nervous.

"I and my family will be fine, but I worry about everyone else — minorities and people who have traditionally struggled in our country," if Trump gets elected, she said.

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By Kathleen Foody

Associated Press writers Kate Brumback and Russ Bynum contributed to this report.

6:50 p.m.

Some Atlanta voters denied provisional ballots

An election protection official says some voters were denied provisional ballots at several polling stations in Atlanta.

Georgia Election Protection coalition spokesman Harold Franklin says poll mangers refused to provide provisional ballots to voters on Tuesday. Franklins says they received reports that voters were given no reason of refusal at several stations including Therrell High School and the Tracey Wyatt Recreation Complex.

Franklin claims voters who are eligible or entitled to a provisional ballot were denied. He did not know the amount of voters who were refused a provisional ballot, but said a bulk occurred in Fulton County.

Franklin says he spoke with Fulton County election officials, who he said told polling managers to provide voters with ballots.

 

The election protection team is organized by the Lawyers Committee for Civils Rights Under Law.

6 p.m.

Officials say a polling station in suburban Atlanta was evacuated after a small electrical fire.

The DeKalb County Board of Registration said in a news release that All Saints Catholic in Dunwoody will remain open an additional 30 minutes after the fire occurred early Tuesday. The precinct was originally supposed close at 7 p.m.

Officials say firefighters responded to the fire around 11:50 a.m. at the church, which temporarily suspended voting and forced voters to evacuate.

Voting was interrupted between 11:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports there were technical glitches in Gwinnett County along with delays in openings at two polling sites.

 

9:10 a.m.

Georgia voters are heading to the polls to determine whether the state will remain red or go to a Democratic presidential candidate.

Republicans remain confident they can keep the state in Donald Trump's column Tuesday. Public polling suggests Trump is clinging to a small lead over Hillary Clinton.

Voters also will decide whether to send Republican Johnny Isakson back to the U.S. Senate for a third term.

Isakson faces Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley on the ballot.

Eight U.S. House incumbents also face opposition.

Further down the ballot are four proposed amendments to Georgia's constitution. One would allow the state to take over public schools that consistently fail to meet standards.

Another amendment would impose a new tax on strip clubs.

Polls will remain open until 7 p.m.