Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Tuesday stopped in Ludowici to tour the courthouse and meet with several local officials.
“Though I didn’t know he was coming until earlier today, we are glad to have him drop by and take a tour of the courthouse,” Long County Commission Chairman Bobby Walker said.
Kemp arrived at 1 p.m. and spoke with Board of Elections Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham, who led the secretary’s tour. Kemp asked Cunningham about the challenges Long County faces, including the U.S. District Court’s recent decision to require Long County to hold a second district election after the county’s proposed district maps were found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The secretary quested whether the sheriff’s race would be affected. Cunningham told Kemp that the court decision and subsequent new election will not affect any countywide races, just district races for the board of education and the county commission. Additionally, Cunningham said the overlay for the new proposed district map likely will be ready between March and June.
Kemp said the recent ruling had nothing to do with his visit to Long County.
“I just happened to be down in this area, and so I wanted to come by and see you here in Long County. I have visited between 115 and 120 counties since being elected, and today I am visiting Long, Liberty and McIntosh,” he said.
Kemp also asked how many voters are registered in Long County and wanted to know how the voting machines are maintained.
Cunningham told him there are approximately 6,700 registered voters in the county’s five precincts. The ballot machines, she said, are compliant and always securely locked up. Kemp praised the county for its standards.
“There is a lot of difference between the more urban counties and the rural ones. I like to visit the smaller counties, too, because it lets the elected leaders and the locals know that we are accessible and that they don’t have to be intimidated about contacting us,” he said.
County Commissioner Cliff DeLoach said, “It is good for the secretary to be in Long County. Just like he said, it is nice when we down here in Southeast Georgia see one of our leaders make the trip to see us. All too often, the state leaders are so focused on the area up near Atlanta that we are forgotten.”
Ludowici resident Janice Goode asked Kemp whether he could do anything about the still-vacant 3rd and 4th district seats on the city council. He encouraged her to continue pursuing it through the courts.
Regarding the upcoming election, Kemp said, “I think it is going to be a very interesting race. With there not being a lot of statewide races, most of the focus will be on the presidential race. … I’m expecting a good turnout in Georgia.”
“I’m glad the secretary visited us,” Cunningham said. “It was a good visit, and I appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to come by.”