Early Voting Ends with Less than 10% participation
The numbers for the Early Voting period prior to the Municipal Election on Tuesday is in stark contrast to the turnout that took place in October/November 2016. The roughly 4,000 early votes cast for Mayor and Council pales in comparison to the more than 12,254 cast during early voting for the City Referendum.
More than 42,000 votes were cast last fall. The speculations this time range from poll locations, operating hours, apathy and just too many candidates. Excuses as they may citizens need to take a good look and make a wise decision.
Candidates Campaign Contribution Disclosures Reports on County Website click here
UPDATED - Fulton County added more reports on Monday
With the election days away the reports paint a interesting picture. 59 of the 72 candidates including the one declared "write-in" filed their report by the 15 days before the election deadline. What's perplexing is there are 13 candidates who didn't file on time. Though not illegal it does speak to their willingness to follow the rules. It does show a lack of transparency, organization and veracity. It can be like doing your taxes, but timeliness is most important here.
This is not a late homework assignment where you will be given point deductions. These people are seeking our vote to lead our new city. The excuses are varied, I imagine. Whether it was done on purpose I don't know. Whatever the excuse it is not a good look. Am I saying you should take that into account when you enter the polls on Tuesday? Absolutely! You should take it in consideration. We have a lot of citizens and candidates who don't know what they don't know. This is one of the things you should want to know. Some candidates may not have filed full reports because they were told by Fulton County if they didn't raise $2,500 they wouldn't have to report it. Instead they filed and Affidavit of Intent not to Exceed $2,500 in Contributions and/or Expenditures. I'm of the opinion that candidates should file full reports anyway.
Why are the Disclosures important? It is the one way we as citizens can get a behind the curtains look at the dealings of candidates. You can see by the report how well they manage their affairs or not. The span of their organization, if any. Who has contributed to their campaign, how much and whether it's local money. Whether or not they spend their contributions wisely and with whom. Who's loaning them money, if any and whether they are self-funding their run. Campaign Disclosures are key to knowing candidates. Yes, they smile, give firm handshakes and royal waves, never the less that's not enough.
We have first-timers true ranked amateurs, seasoned candidates and a few politically connected folks. What's frightening is "experienced" politicos that know the game, have not filed. What's saddens me is the thought that they maybe gaming the voters by not filing. Hiding information that could be damaging to their candidacy. Maybe they are so unorganized they couldn't get it done in a timely fashion. Or they pushed it off to someone else who just didn't get it done. No matter the excuse it did not get done and we as voters are left wondering. With so many candidates flexing about their business and professional acumen this shows a some have failed the first true test.
My review of each the Summary documents that were filed show a wide array of responses. Some filings were filed to say they didn't take a contributions. Some had obvious omissions, others egregious mathematical errors and a few showed the filer didn't read the instructions. Follow the link above and read them for yourself.
This link shows the basic information gleaned from the Summary documents in a spreadsheet. Fulton County updated their website on Monday, March 20 with additional filings that were not on the site on Saturday.
A number of candidates filed an affidavit stating they would not collect or expend more than $2,500. The issue is a candidate can exceed that amount without presenting any information on who he/she received funds from or how the funds were expended until they file a report in June 30 and December 31. Both dates are long after the election. A candidate can easily take advantage of this. It appears to be one of the loopholes in the Financial Disclosure laws.
Voters should read the reports to find out more about their chosen candidate(s).
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017 cast your ballot wisely. We have one chance to get this right.
2017 Campaign Disclosures Revised