The polls are open today in a pair of deep south congressional districts, including one that has become the most expensive congressional election ever and a test of President Trump’s popularity – or lack of it – with suburban voters.
Voters in Georgia’s 6th District, north of Atlanta, are choosing between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel to fill the seat vacated when Trump named former Rep. Tom Price to serve as secretary of health and human services. The seat is a longtime Republican stronghold, though Trump almost lost it to Hillary Clinton last November and Ossoff has been running slightly ahead in published polls.
The contest in South Carolina’s 5th District, between Democrat Archie Parnell and Republican Ralph Norman, has been far quieter. Norman is a heavy favorite to fill the seat, vacated when Trump named Rep. Mick Mulvaney to head his Office of Management and Budget.
To help voters in both districts who encounter long lines or any obstacles to voting, volunteers with the Election Protection coalition will be staffing their voter hotline, 866 OUR VOTE until the polls close this evening.
The candidates and a plethora of “independent” and political party groups have invested more than $55 million in the Georgia contest, underscoring its importance as a test for the White House and Democratic hopes of taking control of the House in the 2018 election.
It’s also a test for Georgia election officials, who struggled with vote counting issues in an April primary that was a prelude to today’s voting. This morning’s editions of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution note that it took officials until 2 a.m. on the morning after the primary to complete the count. Richard Barron, the county’s director of registration and elections, assured the newspaper that the issues that cropped up in April won’t be a problem tonight.
The election is being run amid continuing questions about the security of Georgia’s electoral machinery. The FBI is investigating a breach of computer systems at Kennesaw State University, which is responsible for pre-election testing and programming of the state’s voting machines. State officials declined requests from Common Cause and other groups to use paper ballots for the primary and in today’s balloting.