GEORGIA VIEWS

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers

The Brunswick News on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine:

The fight against COVID-19 is reaching a critical juncture. While the bad news is that cases are continuing to rise in parts of the country, the good news is that the vaccines needed to combat the virus are on their way. And when we say on their way, we don’t mean they are in the development process. They are actually in vehicles and airplanes on their way to areas around the country to be distributed.

The rollout of the vaccine engineered by Pfizer is already underway. Hospitals and frontline workers are first up to get the vaccine. Considering they are exposed to the virus every day in this fight, it makes sense to give them the protection they need so they can keep taking care of the sick.

Another vaccine could be on its way soon. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration’s preliminary analysis has confirmed the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Health. It could be recommended by an outside panel of experts later this week with the FDA’s approval following not long after.

Considering all that this year has put us through, it is welcome news at the end of the year that this pandemic could be in the rearview sooner rather than later.

But there are some who are skeptical about taking vaccines. The anti-vaccine movement has grown in recent years, mostly around the supposed link between some vaccines and children with autism. That link has never been scientifically proven, yet it is promoted as fact by those who are anti-vaccine.

A recent poll has also shown that Black Americans are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The country has a horrible history of using Black Americans in medical experiments without their knowledge, the most famous being the Tuskegee syphilis experiments that lasted for 40 years, from 1932 to 1972.

It was determined that researchers did not inform the participants of the study’s real purpose, and that the men involved in the study were never given adequate treatment for their disease. We understand how such an unethical study can create mistrust and getting that trust back has to be earned. Hopefully, these COVID-19 vaccines can do just that.

We encourage everyone to get a vaccine when available. We don’t believe the companies and the government would let these vaccines into the public if they didn’t pass the test, especially considering that health care workers and the most vulnerable will be among the first to receive it.

A return to somewhat normal life is just around the corner, and it will hinge on how many people get these shots. Have faith in the miracle of science that has helped produce these much-needed vaccines.

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The Valdosta Daily Times on poll workers:

We agree with the next President of the United States.

President-elect Joe Biden said, in a Monday evening address to the nation, poll workers in the 2020 presidential election showed courage.

Republicans, Democrats and others who worked the polls, helping us all vote and working diligently to safeguard the election in our community and across the nation showed a commitment to democracy.

This year, more than ever, it was a thankless task.

This year, they protected the integrity of the election in the face of threats, name calling and false accusations.

And still, they did their jobs.

Whether they were registering new voters, checking you in at your voting precinct, escorting you to the machine and explaining how to cast a ballot, or assisting in the initial count or recount, these women and men do what they do in a nonpartisan way, believing the principles of democracy outweigh the issues of the day.

In Lowndes County, Deb Cox, who runs the elections office, leads a small army of staff, temporary workers and volunteers as they go about performing their duties, effectively ensuring that every vote counts.

Essentially, all elections are local and there is no such thing as a federally run election.

The U.S. election for president and every federal office is actually a mass network of local elections across the nation, all held at the same time.

If this year’s presidential election was corrupt and the fix was in, that would mean local elections held in communities across the nation, just like Lowndes County, were corrupt.

There is no evidence of systemic, widespread voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election.

Yes, mistakes are made here and there in every election, and there are a few people, statistically speaking, across the nation who vote without the legal authority to do so. So, we hear of investigations and a few prosecutions in various places, and that is not unique to this year and this presidential election.

When those relatively rare things happen, it does not mean the hard-working, dedicated women and men — poll workers from both parties in your community — are doing anything wrong, corrupt or illegal. It also doesn’t mean the election was stolen or the outcome was changed.

We appreciate the hard work of poll workers, our local elections office, party poll watchers and volunteers and commend them for their integrity. Especially as they do it again in Lowndes County and throughout Georgia for the runoff election for two Senate seats.

We thank them for making democracy work both this year and every election cycle.

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The Daily Citizen-News on a recent comment by Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston:

A power grab. Cronyism. An affront to democracy.

These are just a few words and phrases that come to mind when describing Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston’s idea to take away the power to elect our secretary of state from the people and give it to our state legislators.

For decades, Georgia voters have chosen the person who oversees elections, corporations, professional licensing and other matters. For decades, that system has worked well. That is until President Donald Trump lost Georgia, and the 2020 presidential election, to President-elect Joe Biden.

In the days after the Nov. 3 general election, Republicans across the country -- with President Trump as one of the most vocal critics -- lashed out against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, for his handling of the election. Many people alleged there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia -- which has been unfounded. Various courts have rejected lawsuits attempting to throw out votes or overturn the final general election vote tally.

Sensing heat from Republicans, Ralston last week floated the idea of letting the state’s senators and representatives hand-pick our secretary of state.

“I’m dead serious about this and so we can consider next session a constitutional amendment that would provide for the election of the secretary of state of Georgia by the General Assembly and not in the fashion that it has been done for a long period of time,” the Ellijay Republican said. “I think it’s the only way to right this ship. I don’t do this lightly, I don’t do this disrespectfully to the incumbent who I have high personal regard for, but I do it because we have a job to do.”

What exactly is wrong with our ship?

Of course, Ralston offered no concrete evidence of widespread voter malfeasance, nor did he cite a definitive list of proven problems with how Raffensperger and his office handled the Nov. 3 election and ensuing recounts.

Ralston gave no firm reasons why voters shouldn’t elect the secretary of state. He claimed that Georgians are frustrated and “feel like they’re being excluded” by the current secretary of state’s office. How many people have voiced that concern? He didn’t say.

If voters “feel like they’re being excluded” by Raffensperger’s office, they have recourse. They can vote him out of office. Ah, the power of the people!

A constitutional amendment must receive two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate before it can be placed on the ballot for voters. This should never even get to the voters’ ballots.

We sincerely hope our local elected officials -- State Rep. Matt Barton, R-Calhoun; State Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton; State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper; State Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton; and State Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth -- buck the Republican Party line and vote against such a constitutional amendment, if it even comes up for a vote.

Before then, they should speak out against this ploy to take away our voice and call it what is it.

A power grab. Cronyism. An affront to democracy.