On Air Now

Listen Now


H 67° L 45°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 67° L 45°
  • clear-day
    Clear. H 67° L 45°
  • clear-day
    Mostly Clear. H 70° L 53°

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

State & Regional Govt & Politics
Georgia officials set presidential primary date for March 24

Georgia officials set presidential primary date for March 24

Georgia officials set presidential primary date for March 24
Photo Credit: Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
ecretary of State Brad Raffensperger answers questions after the bill's passage. The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday to buy a new $150 million election system that includes a paper ballot printed with a ballot marking device. But opponents to the bill, including many Democrats, say it would still leave Georgia's elections vulnerable to hacking and tampering. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Georgia officials set presidential primary date for March 24

Georgia election officials set next year’s presidential primary for March 24, shortly after county officials said the uncertainty of the timing could scramble their preparations to hold the vote.  

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the date on Wednesday, reversing a position he staked earlier this week to hold off on deciding the timing of the 2020 primary until the government completes its purchase of new voting equipment. 

Georgia was among the last states without a spot on the primary calendar and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this week that the delay was making it difficult for county elections officials to nail down polling places.

It’s not immediately clear why the timeline changed, and Raffensperger’s office did not comment on the shift. County elections officials were notified Wednesday by a bulletin that also said early voting for the contest would start March 2. 

The March 24 date means that the presidential primary won’t take place until after many other states have already weighed in, potentially diminishing Georgia’s relevance in deciding each party’s candidate. 

But leading Democrats welcomed the new date, anticipating that Georgia could play a more prominent role in the primary if it’s separated from the group of large states holding their primary vote on Super Tuesday. 

State Sen. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said she’s pleased Raffensperger “finally did his job” and selected a date, ending months of uneasy limbo that unnerved local elections supervisors. 

“This timing uniquely places Georgia as the decision maker for the Democratic presidential primary,” she said, “and we expect to continue seeing candidates engage Georgia Democrats.”

>> Related: Battle over Georgia voting rights escalates in federal court

Related: Abrams to testify on Supreme Court’s voting rights ruling

Political Insider: Why Georgia Democrats might be eager to duck 'Super Tuesday' in 2020

The election will also mark an important test for the new $150 million system of touchscreen-and-printer voting technology that Georgia is set to purchase to replace the state’s 17-year-old electronic voting system.

At least four election companies have submitted confidential bids for the contract, which may not be finalized until July. And pending federal court cases challenging the state’s elections process could also delay or complicate the roll-out. 

'Maximize visibility’

The March date comes as a relief to politicians who were worried the vote could be pushed back as far as May, when the Democratic race for president could be all but decided. 

Still, even the late March timing is a departure from recent policy. 

The Georgia primary was held on Super Tuesday — the first Tuesday in March — in each of the past two presidential election years. Then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp orchestrated an “SEC primary” on that date with other Southern states in 2016.

On Super Tuesday in 2020, California and Texas have planned their presidential primaries on the same March 3 day as many states in the South, sapping the region’s importance as a one-day voting bloc.

By going it alone, Georgia’s move may pay off. 

It’s the only state that has so far scheduled a primary on that date, said Allan Keiter, who runs the 270towin.com election-tracking website. And the trove of Georgia delegates awarded in the vote could be pivotal if the race is still competitive.

“The state will have the date to itself and it will maximize visibility in the media and among the candidates still in the race,” said Keiter. “There could be lots of visits that week, and voter turnout would also be higher.” 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters line up to cast ballots at Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta for Georgia’s presidential primary in 2016. The state’s primary for 2020 will not be scheduled until new voting machines are put in place. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Georgia presidential primary date undecided because of voting machines

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters line up to cast ballots at Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta for Georgia’s presidential primary in 2016. The state’s primary for 2020 will not be scheduled until new voting machines are put in place. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

No more limbo

What’s unknown is why state elections officials abruptly reversed their position. 

A Raffensperger deputy, Jordan Fuchs, told the AJC in a story published Monday that the office would not set a date until a vendor for new voting machines was chosen and “a specific implementation plan” is in place. 

Pressed for comment Wednesday on why the Republican seemingly changed his mind, Raffensperger’s office only acknowledged receiving the question. 

Antsy elections officials were happy to have a date. 

Nancy Boren, the chief elections official in Muscogee County, said she was already expecting a primary sometime in the first quarter of next year but said she needed an exact date to finish her planning. 

“Having the date is great – we can start setting the dates for early voting and absentee ballot mailings,” said Boren. “We can now complete all those things we normally do in preparation for an election.”

Douglas County Elections Director Milton Kidd was one of a handful of local officials to make public his concerns before Raffensperger set the date, saying the uncertainty already caused complications with scheduling poll workers, printing schedules to mail to voters and booking facilities for the primary.  

Kidd said Wednesday that the timing means the end of the uneasy limbo for him and the county’s 300 poll workers, who can now start preparing for the March 24 date. 

“It needed to be set,” he said. “I have to be able to actually plan an election for the citizens of Douglas County. We can’t have that uncertainty.” 

Read More


  • A man is facing murder charges after authorities in England discovered dozens of bodies in a truck container in Essex, police said. >> Read more trending news  According to the BBC, the bodies of 39 people, including 38 adults and one teen, were discovered early Wednesday at an industrial park in Grays. Police arrested the truck's 25-year-old driver, a man from Northern Ireland whose name was not released, in connection with the deaths, the network reported. North Essex police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner called the incident 'tragic,' The Associated Press reported. “We are in the process of identifying the victims; however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process,' he said, according to the news service. Investigators said the truck, which came from Bulgaria, arrived in England on Saturday. Read more here or here. Please check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Registered sex offenders in Butts County, Georgia, are suing to stop the Sheriff’s Office from putting signs in their yards to discourage trick-or-treaters ahead of Halloween. >> Read more trending news  The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Macon, asks the court to order the agency to stop the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that read: “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG.” Deputies put up some of the signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint. A hearing is set for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. for a judge to decide whether to bar the signs this year. Long intends to fight for the signs. The sheriff said his agency decided to put up the warnings last year because the “Halloween on the Square” event in Jackson had been canceled, causing more children than normal to go door to door for their candy. “Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday,” the sheriff wrote on Facebook, “I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.” The suit — filed by registered sex offenders Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden and Corey McClendon — said deputies had violated the law by trespassing to put up signs without permission. The plaintiff’s attorneys, Mark Yurachek and Mark Begnaud, argue that forcing the men to leave the signs up in their yards was tantamount to “compelling speech,” which runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The suit also seeks a trial and for a jury to award the plaintiffs compensation for the stress, fear and humiliation the signs caused last year.
  • With drive and charisma, he helped transform a game': That's the reasoning behind the U.S. Postal Service choosing golfer Arnold Palmer to honor with a new stamp. >> Read more trending news  According to agency officials, the stamp features an action photograph of Palmer at the 1964 U.S. Open at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.  According to the Golf Channel, Palmer won seven majors and had 62 PGA Tour wins. He was the first golfer to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and 'was the most beloved golfer of all time.' The Palmer stamp is part of a new collection issued for 2020. The Postal Service said it celebrates people, events and cultural milestones unique to U.S. history each year with new stamps. The 2020 crop includes stamps featuring the Lunar New Year, a heart, journalist Gwen Ifill, wild orchids, the state of Maine, the Harlem Renaissance and more.
  • The daughter of gospel recording artist and songwriter Micah Stampley has died at age 15. >> Read more trending news  Mary Stampley died Tuesday after a seizure. No other information was available about her health history. The singer, who has been nominated for several Dove and Stellar Awards, lives in Fayetteville, Georgia. He and his wife, Heidi, own a cafe, Orleans Brews and Beignets. Stampley’s 2005 debut CD, “The Songbook of Micah,” debuted at No. 3 and included hits like “War Cry” and “Take My Life.” Arrangements are pending. 'Please keep their family in your prayers and respect their privacy as they deal with this traumatic event,' spokesman David Robinson said in a statement.
  • A woman is recounting a terrifying and vicious dog attack at a park in Pineville, North Carolina, Monday and when police tried to seize that dog, the owner took off, leading police on a slow-speed chase for miles.  >> Read more trending news  Abryana Heggins said she remembers all the thoughts that were rushing through her mind as a huge dog attacked her at a Pineville dog park.  'I just kept thinking 'What's happening? Why is this happening? How am I gonna get this dog off of me,'' Heggins said.  She said it all started when a very large dog owned by Terilyn Jackson started attacking a husky in the park.  'At first, he grabbed the husky by the back of its neck and then, grabbed its tail and started shaking its head aggressively,' Heggins said. 'The woman got a whistle and blowing at him.' She and her friend Jaylen rushed to get their dogs out of the park, but suddenly, she said she felt pressure on her arm.  'I just ended up being dragged across the ground by the dog, and he started shaking and locked onto my arm and there's people yelling, and she's yelling and Jaylen is trying to rip the dog off my arm,' Heggins said.  Her friend jumped on top of the dog and fought it until Pineville police arrived. Officers told Jackson they needed to take her dog into custody, but they said she took her dog and drove off.  Officers turned on their lights and sirens and followed her. They said she drove the speed limit the entire time, but refused to stop.  At one point, they said she tried to hit their patrol car. Six miles later, she arrived at an animal hospital on Archdale Drive in Charlotte.  Eventually, police arrested Jackson.  'I could have been an 8-year-old or a child and that would be worse than what I got or Jaylen,' Heggins said. Her friend Jaylen suffered several bites and broke a finger during all of this.  The dog is under what is called a 'rabies quarantine.' Animal control officials are monitoring it while police look into its background and decide if it should be put down. 
  • Pete Burdon received a call from his daughter about a post circulating on Facebook that was getting a lot of attention.  >> Read more trending news  Gunnery Sgt. John Guglielmino, a Marine Corps veteran from Clay County, Florida was sick in the hospital and his daughter’s final plea was to get as many visitors as she could to say goodbye to her dad.  “I contacted her right away and I said would this be a good time to go over there,” said Pete Burdon, a retired Navy civilian who spent 37 years working with the Navy. Burdon said he responded to the call because it felt like it was important to say goodbye to a fellow veteran, even if he didn’t know him personally. Last week he gave him a hat and a hero’s salute. “When I joked with him you can see that he tried to smile and then he tried to salute after he put that hat on, that was really a touching moment for me,” Burdon said.  His daughter Katherine Boccanelli told me her father served three tours in Vietnam. She said he suffered a stroke back in April and he was diagnosed with cancer from exposure to Agent Orange. She didn’t want him to feel alone with his last few days on earth so she put the post out on social media.  What she didn’t expect was to see the outpour from the community.  “For her it was a step she didn’t know was going to happen when she put it out there, about a 100 people showed up in that short time,” Burdon said.  Burdon says he said goodbye to Guglielmino in the hospital and he’ll be there tomorrow to say his final farewell at the funeral.  The funeral will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Crossroads to Victory Church in Raiford, Florida.  Guglielmino’s family says any veterans who visited who wanted to come out and pay their respects are welcome to attend. To contribute to the funeral services, click here.