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Vote early at courthouse!

Early voting started this morning, Monday, Oct. 17 and will be held each business day through Friday, Nov. 4 at the courthouse. Early voting will also be held Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to making a presidential candidate decision, Georgia voters will answer four Amendment questions in the upcoming election, one that would allow more state control of public schools, one that would allow fines for those involved in sex crimes to fund social services for those who are sexually exploited, one that would fundamentally change the Judicial Qualification Commission and one that addresses the sales tax for fireworks. Voters can view their sample ballot by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at mvp.sos.ga.gov. The four ballot questions were legislatively referred constitutional amendments. The first addresses state intervention in public schools found to be ‘chronically failing.’ The first ballot questions reads, ‘Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?’ The Pike County board of education discussed the ballot question at a recent board meeting and made asked citizens not to vote yes since they believe the state should not run local schools. The second ballot question addresses generating revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. The question reads, ‘Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?’ The third ballot question calls for the creation of a Judicial Qualification Commission that is not an independent entity, but one that would be designed and governed by the General Assembly. The proposed amendment is supported by former state judge and current state Rep. Johnnie Caldwell who resigned from his judgeship in April 2010 after the commission investigated reports of sexual harassment of a female attorney in his courtroom. The ballot question reads, ‘Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?’ The fourth ballot question addresses the allocation of revenue generated from the sale of fireworks and if passed would dedicate revenue from fireworks sales to trauma care, fire protection services and public safety. The ballot question reads, ‘Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?’

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