DeKalb County Voter Guide: November 3rd General Election

Below, we’ve provided you everything you need to know to vote in Georgia’s November 3rd general election.

Still have questions? Call Matthew at 678-631-8820.

WHEN

Mark your calendar! The first thing you need to know are your deadlines.

  • Tuesday, September 15, 2020––First day you may submit your absentee ballot via mail
  • Monday, October 5, 2020––Voter Registration deadline
  • Monday, October 12, 2020––In-person early voting begins
  • Tuesday, November 3, 2020––Election Day

Check your voter registration: https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov


HOW & WHERE

Because of COVID-19, you have even more ways to cast your ballot than normal. Although all Georgians are strongly urged to vote by absentee ballot either via mail or drop-box (keep reading), you can decide which manner of voting is right for you.

If you do decide to vote in-person either early or on Election Day, please heed CDC guidance by wearing a cloth face mask, observing 6-feet social distancing while around others, and using hand sanitizer before and after touching common surfaces.

You have three ways to vote:

(1) Absentee/Paper Ballot

Voting by absentee/paper ballot is a 3-step process. First, you have to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. You can request an absentee ballot online here.

Once you receive your absentee ballot, you’ll need to mark your selections and secure the ballot in the envelope/mailing sleeve provided with the ballot. Keep reading for information about each candidate and referendum item on your ballot.

Finally, you’ll need to return your ballot to the DeKalb Board of Elections Office no later than Election Day. You can do this two different ways.

  • Via Mail: Place your ballot in the mail, ensuring that you’ve attached sufficient postage and allowed enough time for your ballot to reach the Board of Elections no later than Election Day (allow at least 3-4 days to be safe).
  • Via Drop box: In response to COVID-19, the State Elections Board recently approved a new rule to allow voters to physically return their ballots to the County Board of Elections by placing it in a drop box so as to avoid person-to-person contact (and without having to pay for postage to return it via mail). You must return your ballot no later than Election Day for it to be counted.
    • DeKalb County has multiple drop boxes scattered throughout the county (last updated 9/19/20):
      • Brookhaven City Hall – 4362 Peachtree Rd NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319
      • County Line-Ellenwood Library –  4331 River Rd., Ellenwood, GA 30294
      • Sterling at Candler Village – 2536 Mellville Ave., Decatur, GA 30032
      • Voter Registration Office – 4380 Memorial Dr., Decatur, GA 30032 (3 drop boxes)
      • Exchange Park – 2771 Columbia Dr., Decatur, GA 30032
      • City of Stonecrest – 3120 Stonecrest Blvd., Stonecrest, GA 30038
      • City of Stone Mountain – 875 Main St., Stone Mountain, GA  30083
      • City of Dunwoody – 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody, GA 30338
      • City of Doraville – 3752 Park Ave., Doraville, GA 30340
      • City of Tucker – 1975 Lakeside Parkway Suite 350, Tucker, GA 30084
      • Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library – 5234 LaVista Rd, Tucker, GA 30084
      • Clarkston Library – 951 N. Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA 30021
      • Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library – 2861 Wesley Chapel Rd, Decatur, GA 30034
      • Decatur City Hall – 509 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA 30030
      • Lou Walker Senior Center – 2538 Panola Road, Stonecrest, GA 30058

(2) In-person Early Voting (starting Oct. 12, 2020)

Starting Monday, October 12th, you may cast your vote in-person at any of the early voting polling sites available throughout DeKalb County.

The full list of early voting sites and times is posted below and available online via the DeKalb County Board of Elections.

(3) Election-Day Voting (Nov. 3, 2020)

On Election Day (Tuesday, November 3rd), polls will be open from 7a–7p. Unlike for early voting, on Election Day, you may only cast your ballot at your specific polling location.

Find your polling location here.


WHO & WHAT

Download your personalized sample ballot here.

  • President of the United States
    • DEBATES: The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced three debates between the presidential candidates and one vice-presidential debate. The information for each is listed below.
      • Tues., Sept. 29 to be held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace.
      • Wed., Oct. 7 vice-presidential debate to be held at University of Utah in Salt Lake City and moderated by USA Today’s Washington bureau chief Susan Page.
      • Thurs., Oct. 15 to be held at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida and moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully.
      • Thurs., Oct. 22 to be held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.
    • Candidates:
      • Donald J. Trump (Republican) (Incumbent)—website
      • Joseph R. Biden (Democratic)website
        • I have proudly endorsed Joe Biden for President.
      • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian)—website
  • U.S. Senate (seat held by David Perdue)
    • DEBATE: The Atlanta Press Club will host a live debate between the candidates on October 12th. The event will be livestreamed (watch on Facebook here) at 3pm on October 12th and broadcast on GPB-TV at 8pm that same day.
    • Candidates:
      • David A. Perdue (Republican) (Incumbent)—website
      • Jon Ossoff (Democratic)website
      • Shane Hazel (Libertarian)—website
  • U.S. Senate (special election to fill the unexpired term of Johnny Isakson through 2022, currently held by Kelly Loeffler)
    • TWO DEBATES:
      • The Atlanta Press Club will host a live debate between the top-tier candidates (those who have reached at least 3% in at least two non-partisan polls) on October 19th. The event will be livestreamed (watch on Facebook here) at 3pm on October 19th and broadcast on GPB-TV at 8pm that same day.
      • Those candidates who have not reached at least 3% in at least two non-partisan polls will be invited to participate in a second debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club on October 19th. The event will be livestreamed (watch on Facebook here) at 1pm on October 19th and broadcast on GPB-TV at 9pm that same day.
    • Background:
      • U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who was first elected to the Senate in 2005, announced his retirement effective December 31, 2019. Because Sen. Isakson’s current six-year term will not expire until 2022, Gov. Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat temporarily until a special election could be held on November 3, 2020.
      • Election law provided that this election be an “open general,” also known as a “jungle general,” meaning there is no primary election beforehand. Because of this, many candidates from various parties have entered the race. With so many candidates, it is unlikely that any candidate will receive more than 50 percent of the vote on November 3rd, so the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election to be held on January 5, 2021.
    • Candidates:
      • Doug Collins (Republican)—website
        • Rep. Collins currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District and is the ranking member on the powerful House Judiciary Committee. He was first elected to Congress in 2012 after serving in the Georgia State House for six years.
        • You can read more about Rep. Collins’s background here.
      • Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)—website
      • Annett Davis Jackson (Republican)—website
      • Wayne Johnson (Republican)—website
      • Kelly Loeffler (Republican) (Incumbent)—website
        • Sen. Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Kemp on December 4, 2019 to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson following his retirement.
        • She has not held prior elected office.
        • Prior to her appointment, Sen. Loeffler was a businesswoman, owning several companies, including the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s NBA. She is married to the owner of the New York Stock Exchange.
        • You can read more about Sen. Loeffler’s background here.
      • Kandiss Taylor (Republican)—website
      • Deborah Jackson (Democratic)—website
      • Jamesia James (Democratic)—website
      • Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democratic)—website
      • Matt Lieberman (Democratic)—website
        • Mr. Lieberman is the son of former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. He has never held elected office. He formerly led a private Jewish school in the Atlanta area.
        • You can read more about Mr. Lieberman, including his responses to a survey here.
        • CONTROVERSY: Last month, it was revealed that Mr. Lieberman authored a book with “racist and discriminatory tropes” in 2018. He was urged to resign but has not.
      • Joy Felicia Slade (Democratic)
      • Ed Tarver (Democratic)—website
      • Raphael Warnock (Democratic)website
        • Rev. Warnock has served as the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church since 2005. He has never run for elected office.
        • You can read more about Rev. Warnock’s background here.
        • ENDORSEMENTS: Rev. Warnock enjoys endorsements from a wide swath of national and statewide leaders, including Stacey Abrams and Sen. Kamala Harris. You can view the full list of his endorsements here.
        • I have endorsed Rev. Warnock for this race.
      • Richard Dien Winfield (Democratic)—website
      • Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)—website
      • Al Bartell (Independent)—website
      • Allen Buckley (Independent)—website
      • Michael Todd Grenne (Independent)—website
      • Valencia Stovall (Independent)—website
      • John “Green” Fortuin (Green)—website
  • Public Service Commission, District 4
    • DEBATE: The Atlanta Press Club will host a live debate between the candidates on October 13th. The event will be livestreamed only (watch on Facebook here) at 11:30am on October 13th.
    • Candidates:
      • Lauren Bubba McDonald, Jr. (Republican) (Incumbent)
      • Daniel Blackman (Democratic)website
      • Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)—website
  • Public Service Commission, District 1
    • Candidates:
      • Jason Shaw (Republican) (Incumbent)—website
      • Robert G. Bryant (Democratic)website
      • Elizabeth Melton (Libertarian)—website
  • U.S. Representative, District 5
    • DEBATE: The Atlanta Press Club will host a live debate between the candidates on October 12th. The event will be livestreamed (watch on Facebook here) at 10am on October 12th and broadcast on GPB-TV at 9pm that same day.
    • Background:
      • U.S. Congressman John Lewis passed away in July 2020 before finishing his two-year term that ends January 3, 2021.
      • On September 29, 2020, a special election is set to be held to fill the seat through the end of the current, unexpired term, set to expire January 3, 2021. A runoff election for that race is scheduled for December 1, 2020, if needed.
      • However, the election on November 3, 2020 is for the next, full term of office, that begins on January 3, 2021.
      • Because Rep. Lewis passed away after winning the primary election, the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) was required to name a replacement for November’s ballot, as required under Georgia law. State Senator and current DPG Chair Nikema Williams was selected as the party’s nominee.
    • Candidates:
      • Angela Stanton-King (Republican)—website
      • Nikema Williams (Democratic)website
        • Nikema Williams is a current State Senator and Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. She is a long-time mentee of the late John Lewis.
  • U.S. Representative, District 6
    • DEBATE: The Atlanta Press Club will host a live debate between the candidates on October 13th. The event will be livestreamed (watch on Facebook here) at 1pm on October 13th and broadcast on GPB-TV at 7pm that same day.
    • Candidates:
      • Karen Handel (Republican)—website
      • Lucy McBath (Democratic) (Incumbent)website
  • State Senator, District 40
    • Sally Harrell (Democratic) (Incumbent)website
  • State Representative, District 80
    • Matthew Wilson (Democratic) (Incumbent)website
      • This is me, and I would appreciate your vote!
  • DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, District 1
    • Nancy Jester (Republican) (Incumbent)—website
    • Robert Patrick (Democratic)website
  • DeKalb County Sheriff
    • Background:
      • This election is for the full four-year term that begins January 1, 2021.
      • You may remember that a special election for DeKalb Sheriff was held on June 9th (rescheduled from March 24th) to fill the unexpired term of Jeffrey Mann. Melody Maddox and Ruth Stringer advanced to a runoff in that race, with Melody Maddox winning in the runoff election.
    • Candidates:
      • Harold Dennis (Republican)—website
        • Mr. Dennis is a former DeKalb lieutenant who also ran for sheriff in 2016.
      • Melody M. Maddox (Democratic) (Incumbent)website
        • Sheriff Maddox is the current DeKalb County Sheriff; the first woman to serve in that position full-time. She became sheriff in December 2019 upon the retirement of then-Sheriff Jeffrey Mann. She previously served as Chief of Police for Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

BALLOT QUESTIONS

  • PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
    • Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended? (HR 164, Act No. 597)
      • Background:
        • Recent reports have shown that fees paid by Georgians and slated for specific environmental clean-up programs have not gone to those programs but instead have been raided by lawmakers and put into the state’s general fund. In other words, lawmakers have used these fees to plug budget shortfalls.
        • Georgians must pay a $1 fee for each new tire bought, supposedly to go toward cleaning up illegally dumped tires. In fact, the state has directed more than $50 million from those fees into the state’s general fund, decimating the clean-up fund.
        • Another state fee is paid at landfills, intended for hazardous waste cleanup. But lawmakers have diverted nearly $100 million from those fees for the general fund over the last decade.
      • What the Amendment Changes:
        • Currently, any fees or taxes that are collected by state law for one purpose, can be diverted into the state’s general fund for any purpose. This referendum would prevent lawmakers from taking fee-generated funds designated for one purpose and using it to plug budget shortfalls.
      • Why I Will Be Voting YES:
        • If a fee or tax is put into state law for one purpose, lawmakers should honor that. This law would bind legislators to use funds generated from fees for the purpose it was collected—in other words, truth in taxation.
        • A common refrain you will hear under the Gold Dome to push back against this is: well, how do we make up for shortfalls in the general fund (general revenue)? The truth is, despite having a clear path to generate nearly $4 billion in new revenue by ending tax giveaways to corporations and tax credit programs proven not to work, Republicans have continued their fiscal mismanagement by closing funding gaps on the backs of the most vulnerable Georgians, dependent on the state’s social programs. So, this refrain doesn’t carry water for me.
    • Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States? (HR 1023, Act No. 596)
      • Background:
        • Georgia’s founders brought the common-law notion of “sovereign immunity” over from England with them. This doctrine provides that citizens cannot sue the state, unless the state has passed a law saying they can.
        • There are currently very few ways citizens can sue the state of Georgia.
      • What the Referendum Changes:
        • This amendment to the Constitution would provide an avenue for citizens to sue the state for declaratory relief.
        • Declaratory relief is a legal determination by a court that resolves a specific legal uncertainty for the parties involved. It is common for parties to seek declaratory relief for the court to determine what specific terms in a contract mean, for example, or whether a specific law is unconstitutional.
        • This new law would not permit attorney fees, punitive damages, or costs of litigation to be recovered by the citizen—he or she would only be entitled to recover an order from the court that resolves whatever legal question presented.
      • Why I Will Be Voting YES:
        • This measure provides Georgians more access to the judicial system to resolve uncertainties in the law and does so without placing the state’s treasury at any risk.
  • STATEWIDE REFERENDUM:
    • Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes for all real property owned by a purely public charity, if such charity is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and such real property is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by such charity to individuals using loans that shall not bear interest? (HB 344, Act No. 149)
      • What the Referendum Changes:
        • If approved by a majority of voters, this new law will exclude the real property owned by non-profits and used to repair or build single-family hones (e.g. Habitat for Humanity) from property taxes.
        • Once the property is sold to an individual, it would taxed at fair-market value.
      • Why I Will Be Voting YES:
        • This is a commonsense measure that will help increase affordable housing in our communities.
  • DEKALB COUNTY REFERENDUM:
    • Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County? (HR 1243, Act No. 538).
      • I voted for this legislation in DeKalb Delegation and on the House floor and will be voting YES.
      • Background:
        • In 2018, the Supreme Court of Georgia held the makeup of the DeKalb County Ethics Board was unconstitutional because a majority of members were appointed by non-elected entities, such as the DeKalb Bar Association, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Leadership DeKalb, and DeKalb universities. The makeup process had been amended to include these non-governmental appointments after a successful countywide referendum in 2015. The lawsuit that ultimately reached the Supreme Court of Georgia was brought by then-DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton after she was charged with ethics violations in 2015. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, a new law is needed to correct the appointment process.
        • Last year, the General Assembly passed SB 7, which was put before voters for a referendum and failed. That proposal would have gutted the Ethics Board and was, thankfully, defeated.
        • Following the defeat of that referendum, I led the charge within the DeKalb Delegation this year to get a “clean fix” passed. While the bill that ultimately passed proposes a few more changes to the Board than I would prefer, I am confident the changes will not weaken the power of the Ethics Board to reign in county officials breaking the law.
      • What the Referendum Changes:
        • Gift ban — Prohibits members of the DeKalb Purchasing and Contracting Department from accepting gifts, except those “based solely on a family relationship or personal friendship,” from anyone who might conduct business before the department;
        • Recusal for conflicts of interest — Requires the recusal of any county official or employee with a conflict of interest on an official county action;
        • Ethics Officer duties – Removes three administrative duties from the Ethics Officer and transfers them to the new Ethics Administrator;
        • Ethics Administrator – Creates a new position of Ethics Administrator to be selected by the Board of Ethics;
        • Complaint process — Revises the complaint process to require complaints be filed with the ethics administrator; and
        • Appointments – New appointments will be made by Dec. 31, 2020 as follows:
          • DeKalb delegation in the State House will make 3 appointments;
          • DeKalb delegation in the State Senate will make 3 appointments;
          • DeKalb Tax Commissioner will make 1 appointment; and
          • DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk will appoint 2 alternate members who may serve on the Board “to ensure a quorum when members of the board are absent, have a conflict of interest, or find it necessary to recuse themselves or while a vacancy exists”
      • Why I Will Be Voting YES:
        • It has been a long process to get to this point, but I am confident that this is proposal will fix the unconstitutional infirmities of the Board, while also protecting the Board’s integrity as a watchdog for county officials.
  • CITY OF BROOKHAVEN REFERENDUM:
    • Shall the section of the Act be approved which repeals the provision that limits the terms of the mayor of the City of Brookhaven to allows the voters of Brookhaven to choose the mayor of their choice? (HB 695, Act No. 523).
      • I authored this legislation and will be voting YES.
      • Background:
        • This referendum is the product of a citizen-driven process to recommend changes to the Brookhaven charter. A five-person Charter Review Commission held seven public sessions throughout the summer and fall of 2017 to discuss the Charter and potential amendments. It issued its final report to the City Council in December 2017. Nearly all of the recommended changes were ones that the Brookhaven City Council could enact at the local level and did.
        • Three other changes required the General Assembly to act. On those recommendations, the City Council and Mayor held several public hearings and forwarded their recommendations to the delegation of Senators and House members who represent Brookhaven.
        • In 2019, I introduced legislation to authorize the recommended changes. It took two years for that bill to work its way through the legislative process but was signed into law by Gov. Kemp in July 2020.
        • The bill provides for a referendum by Brookhaven voters on the question of whether term limits on the office of mayor should be removed.
      • What the Referendum Changes:
        • If the referendum is approved by more than 50 percent of voters, the current term limit placed on the position of mayor will be removed. Further, this change will apply to the current occupant, Mayor John Ernst, currently serving a second term as mayor.
      • Why I Will Be Voting YES
        • Quite simply, we already have term limits—voters elect a mayor every four years. Each time, voters get to decide whether to continue to support them or not, and each time opponents have the ability to run against them.
        • I do not support additional term limits beyond what currently exists. Studies have shown that in states with “career term limits” as I call them, it becomes easy for elected officials to start thinking short-term, backing measures that provide them good press without thinking about the repercussions that will occur after they leave office (careerism over effective representation). Novice mayors become incentivized to work more exclusively with lobbyists and special interests to find measures they can pass quickly. This weakens the legislative process at the local level and disincentivizes our local leaders from tackling deep-rooted or long-term efforts, such as long-term transit efforts. Much of this fallout can be seen in states like California, which has expressed regret at having passed career term limits.
        • I think a better approach to addressing the power of incumbency is through redistricting reform (like HR 369 that I introduced last year) and limited the power of money in campaigns, particularly by overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.