Columbia County's Board of Elections has been working hard the past few weeks, preparing for Grovetown's upcoming city election.
Most poll workers are veterans who know the system. But late this summer they had to learn a few new tricks: Namely, how to work with the state's new voter identification law.
The law was a great victory this past legislative session for state Rep. Sue Burmeister, whose district overlaps part of west Augusta and Columbia County.
It's funny; Burmeister can't get Augusta government-reform legislation passed because of the Democrat-dominated local delegation, but she's a powerhouse statewide. Jesus had it right (of course): Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.
Yet in spite of all that work from Burmeister to get the law in place, and from Columbia County's election workers to prepare to enforce it, voters in Grovetown's upcoming election will be allowed to use everything from electricity bills to workplace ID cards to identify themselves.
Never mind that on the Georgia side of the river, Grovetown likely has the area's highest percentage of illegal immigrants. A federal judge's injunction against the new law says it's too cumbersome to require the city's voters, and voters anywhere else in Georgia, to carry a driver's license with them to the polls.
That judge, Harold Murphy, was appointed by Jimmy Carter and is the cousin of former Democratic House Speaker Tom Murphy. No one should be surprised that he would grant an injunction in support of voter fraud.
Our elections workers in Columbia County are the best, but they can only work with the tools they're given. No one reasonably expects vote fraud to occur in the Grovetown election, or Augusta's mayoral election, or any other Nov. 8 election to any significant degree.
But Murphy's ruling sure makes it tougher for Burmeister to make a difference in her own hometown " and in her state, too.
Tax dollars at work
On April 15, I stood in line at the Martinez Post Office to send more of my hard-earned money to the government.
The helpful woman guided me through the use of the new automated postage machine, and when we were done she assured me that the letters were postmarked on time.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a letter from the Georgia Department of Revenue. We owed them more money, it said, as a penalty for filing taxes late.
How do you prove you paid them on time? The penalty was just $28, so after helpless grumbling we just wrote a check and sent it off.
Well, a couple of days later, we get a letter from Bart Graham, Georgia's commissioner of revenue.
It can be summed up in one word: Oops.
It has recently come to our attention that there are taxpayers who received a notice for penalty and interest on timely filed and paid 2004 income tax returns, the letter says. This letter is to inform you that, if you received this type of notice, please disregard as we are taking corrective action.
Well, that's just great, Bart, but I already sent my check. No worries, he says; they'll send me a refund. (I'm skeptical; this is from the same state government that refused to send me a new drivers' license because they couldn't verify my address existed " just a week after having sent my wife a new license to the same address.)
Just chalk this up as reason No. 486 for doing away with the income tax, and most of the government it funds.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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