Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

___

The Valdosta Daily Times on wearing masks and practicing social distancing while voting in Georgia:

We are pleased to see so many people exercising their right to vote.

We are dismayed at the lack of protective masks and social distancing.

It looks like we may see records for voter turnout shattered.

We have written ad nauseam about abysmal turnout election cycle after cycle.

On the local level there have been times that the turnout percentage was in the single digits.

Of course, this presidential election is bringing out people in droves and we hope it has a trickle down affect and activates the electorate in future local elections.

High turnout is democracy in action and gives us greater assurances that the outcome of a national election is more truly the will of the American people.

But please, can’t you just wear a mask when you go to the polls and respect social distancing guidelines to protect both yourself and all of your friends and neighbors around you there?

Is it too much to ask?

Poll workers are wearing personal protective equipment.

Doing so is not partisan.

It is smart and responsible.

COVID-19 is again spiking across the nation and Georgia is likely to follow other states that saw daily numbers falling only to see a resurgence as people spent more time in crowded spaces.

Almost 150 patients at our local hospital have died of COVID-19. Almost 7,500 people in Georgia have died. At least 85 Lowndes County residents have died. Almost 4,200 people in our county have been diagnosed with the dangerous coronavirus and while so many did not die there are a significant number of people who have been and still are seriously ill and may never completely recover.

Even if we never get sick and are never diagnosed, any of us could still be spreading COVID-19 to others, especially if we are not wearing masks and not social distancing. Sure there are many people who never get very sick and others who fully recover, but what about those who do not?

Many of you opted to receive your mail-in ballot. We again want to emphasize that mailing your ballot in or dropping it off at the elections office is secure. Safeguards are in place to protect the integrity of the election and despite rhetoric from partisans, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud associated with absentee or mailed-in voting.

But if you do choose to vote in-person during this early voting period or on Election Day, show respect, be safe, protect yourself and others and wear a mask.

Wearing a mask does not prove you are a Democrat or that you are a Republican. Wearing a mask simply means you are thoughtful and concerned about your community.

___

The Brunswick News on the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court:

Democrats and Republicans need to come up with a new name for confirmation hearings on nominated Supreme Court justices. They’re anything but confirmation hearings. ”Disconfirmation hearings” is more like it.

But there’s another name that might more accurately describe what they truly have become over the years. Starting now, with the hearings currently being held on President Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, let’s call it Salem Witch Trials II.

The next series of confirmation hearings, whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, would be Salem Witch Trials III, and so on.

Anyone who has kept up with these hearings over the past two decades would only be fooling themselves by thinking the two bare no resemblance.

Just look at what’s going on now. Opponents of Appeals Court Judge Barrett — the word “opponents” here is the proper label — do not care what she has to say about basing court rulings on the U.S. Constitution. They only want to know what she thinks about abortion and gun control.

Unless she says she is for both, the left will despise her and do everything in its limited power in the Senate to prevent her from taking the chair once held by the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To earn their support, Judge Barrett must agree with their opinions on abortion and gun control. Period.

No one on the left gives a hoot about whether she will adhere to the U.S. Constitution in cases before the Supreme Court. It’s irrelevant to them. That much is obvious because Judge Barrett has told them her decisions follow the constitution, but they’re still trying to extract her leanings toward only those two issues.

If Democrats and Republicans really want to know what turns people off about Congress and politicians in general, it’s insanity such as this.

They should at least have the guts to call it for what it is, Salem Witch Trials II. It didn’t matter what those on trial had to say in Salem, Mass., in the closing years of the 17th century. Those flinging the questions had made up their minds long before the gavel slam that launched the historically shameful trial. And innocent people died.

___

The Daily Citizen-News on voting during the November election, and voting options for residents of two counties in Georgia:

There are those who say Election Day should be a national holiday, and to that we say “Why not?”

Election Day is always one of the most important days of the year in this country, when the citizens get to go to the polls and make their voice heard in a most powerful way, by electing the people at the local, state and national levels who will make multiple decisions that affect their lives, from determining local property taxes to who will serve as commander-in-chief as president of the United States and possibly send loved ones and neighbors to wage war in harm’s way.

What could be more important?

We hear repeatedly that “elections have consequences,” and that is borne out in many ways, one of which is in the forefront of this year’s presidential election, as President Donald Trump has nominated a jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans such as Trump see her as a way of cementing a conservative majority on the court for many years to come, while her detractors, including many Democrats, fear she will be a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 that recognized a woman’s legal right to an abortion.

This is also an important presidential election year as the nation’s voters decide whether to grant Trump four more years or to replace him with former vice president and Democrat Joe Biden, at a time when the nation seems increasingly divided and there is violence in the streets and talk of more.

The 14th Congressional District, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties, saw the importance of elections earlier this year when Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of the discredited QAnon conspiracy theory, described by The Associated Press as the belief “that Trump is waging a secret campaign against ‘deep state’ enemies and a child sex-trafficking ring run by Satan-worshipping Democrats,” won the Republican primary in a deeply conservative district. Now, with the Democratic candidate withdrawn from the race (although still on the ballot), it appears almost certain there will be at least one QAnon supporter in Congress next year. The people of the district chose that outcome at the ballot box.

So it is hard to overstate the importance of voting, but we must also remember what a privilege it is, how fortunate we are to live in a country where we get to exercise that right and choose our leaders and elected officials. America as the “land of the free” is only as good as the people of this country make it, and you have your opportunity to fulfill that promise if you are registered to vote starting Monday. Early voting starts then for the Nov. 3 general election.

In Whitfield County, early voting takes place in the elections office in the county courthouse, 205 N. Selvidge St., Suite K, in Dalton, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, Oct. 30. Early voting will also take place on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number for the elections office is (706) 278-7183.

In Murray County, early voting takes place at the Murray County Recreation Center, 691 Hyden Tyler Road in Chatsworth, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Friday, Oct. 30. Early voting will also take place on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Murray County elections office is in the county courthouse annex, 121 N. Fourth Ave. in Chatsworth. The phone number is (706) 517-1400, ext. 1232.

This is your chance to “let freedom ring” by enjoying this great opportunity that this wonderful country affords you. We encourage you in the strongest way to vote. There is early voting, absentee voting and of course the traditional path of going to your polling place on Election Day.

Make your voice heard. Don’t miss this opportunity, now and also in the future. It has been said that you should “vote as if your life depends on it,” because it does.

Vote!