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Political Notes

Team Millennial: Two Georgia House of Representatives members, Republican Michael Caldwell of Woodstock and Democrat Dar’shun Kendrick of Lithonia, have teamed up to create the Georgia Future Caucus, described as a bipartisan group of legislators under the age of 40.

“Partisanship should never stand in the way of good policy,” Caldwell said in a press release. “I look forward to partnering with young legislators on both sides of the aisle.”

Says Kendrick, “I look forward to working with this new caucus to use innovative thinking to seek new bipartisan solutions to the problems in Georgia.”

The caucus will work with Millennial Action Project (MAP), a national bipartisan 501(c) (3) organization active in 17 states, “dedicated to activating millennial policymakers to bridge the partisan divide and lead a new era of collective governance,” according to the release. MAP organized the Congressional Future Caucus in 2013.

Caldwell was first elected to the Georgia House in 2012; Kendrick was elected in 2010.


New City, New Mayor: Voters in Stonecrest, DeKalb County’s newest city, elected Jason Lary, a real estate investor and concert promoter and a longtime champion of cityhood, as their first mayor. He won without a runoff. Stonecrest, in the southeastern corner of the county, has about 50,000 residents.


In Memoriam: Cecil B. Day Jr., who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 16 years, died in March after an illness. He retired from government in 2010.

Suit Dismissed: Federal Judge Timothy Batten of the Northern District of Georgia dismissed a lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Brian Kemp by Common Cause and the Georgia NAACP that sought to overturn a state law requiring regular maintenance of voter rolls.

Kemp praised the judge’s order, saying, “Well-maintained voter rolls are essential to election security and avoiding fraud, and I am glad that Judge Batten’s order recognized this important state interest. In the Peach State, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat, and I will not waver in my commitment to ensuring secure, accessible and fair elections in our state.”

Lawyers for Common Cause and the NAACP said they will appeal the decision.

Under Georgia law, registered voters are mailed a confirmation notice after three years of “no contact,” such as voting, signing a nomination petition or engaging in other legally defined activity. If the person does not respond within 30 days, he or she is moved to inactive status; if the individual remains inactive for two federal election cycles, he or she is removed from the rolls.

The federal judge said the law does not violate the National Voter Registration Act as the plaintiffs claimed.


Hancock County Settlement: The Georgia NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law reached a settlement with Hancock County in a suit involving allegations that officials there improperly removed African-American voters from the rolls prior to a 2015 election.

The terms of the settlement include restoration of 174 voters, most of whom are black, to the voting rolls.

Hancock was one of three Georgia counties where federal monitors were stationed during the 2016 election.


Voter Hack Investigation: The FBI is investigating a suspected breach of data at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that as many as 7.5 million Georgia voter records may have been compromised.

By agreement with the secretary of state’s office, the center oversees the state’s election operations and voting machines. KSU said in a statement it is working with federal law officials “to determine whether and to what extent a data breach may have occurred involving records maintained by the Center for Election Systems.”


New Election Board Member: Former State Sen. Seth Harp has replaced attorney Claud “Tex” McIver to serve on the board overseeing voting and elections in the state. He was appointed by leaders of the Georgia Senate.

Harp, a Columbus attorney, left the Senate in 2010 and ran unsuccessfully for the post of state insurance commissioner. McIver, who faces criminal charges in the 2016 shooting of his wife, resigned from the board.


John Lewis Chair At Emory: At a Washington, D.C., ceremony to celebrate Emory University law school’s centennial, the school announced that the John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice is now fully funded through gifts and pledges.

Lewis (D-Atlanta), a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, has represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1987. He is the recipient of Emory’s honorary doctor of laws degree.

The law school says it is conducting a national search for a scholar “with an established academic profile of distinction and a demonstrated desire to promote the rule of law through the study of civil rights” to fill the academic chair.

Emory Law Dean Robert A. Schapiro says the work of the chair will focus on areas “where racial discrimination persists despite legal advances made during the Civil Rights Movement of the last century,” including “issues surrounding the restriction of voting rights, racial dimensions of mass incarceration in the United States and the treatment of undocumented immigrants.”

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