Sunday Reads – May 1, 2022

May has arrived, and early voting starts Monday, May 2, for the May 24 Georgia primary election. It seems like just this week when candidates were accusing each other of election fraud and neglect. (Oh wait. It was just Thursday.) Moving on ….

‘If it’s a civil war, it’s a civil war’

Guyton resident Brian Ulrich, 44, has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy for his role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. The plea statement, released Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice, details some parts of the case against Ulrich and the planning with other members of the Oath Keepers militia group as they conspired to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes from the 2020 Presidential Election. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the timeline details and the conversations (including the headline quote) between insurrectionists in the plea statement by the now-convicted seditionist. The statement is attached to Margaret Coker’s story from Friday evening’s announcement.

Early voting, changes

Last week, while we were compiling the early voting guide for, we found the dedicated elections workers throughout Coastal Georgia counties eager to remind us of one thing: Drop box, early and absentee voting ends May 20. Period. And, they wanted to make sure that you know that drop boxes — when they have them — are inside buildings now, and when the office closes they aren’t accessible for walk-up or drive-up absentee ballot deliveries. There are two mandatory Saturday voting dates (May 7, 14), and that’s all Coastal Georgia counties are offering. Check our guide for early voting locations and access hours, which do vary day to day and county to county. And, not all early voting locations will host early Saturday voting. Please check before you go.

Some shout-outs to elections offices and boards along the coast:

  • Camden County has three locations that will stay open a little later on Thursdays to accommodate workers who can’t get there before 5 p.m..
  • Chatham County has one day of Sunday voting at the main elections board office. No other coastal county has.
  • The biggest cheer of all goes to Bryan County elections workers who were up-ended a few weeks ago by an F4 tornado that flew through Pembroke. They’ve had to prepare for the primary while relocating two polling places and their main office for the primary election.

Be sure to check your voting status before you go. Here’s a link to the page to check acceptable identification to take to the polls. If you need to request an absentee ballot by mail, do it now. The last day to request a ballot is May 13. It must be returned to count 7 days later, by May 20. Almost all Coastal Georgia mail flows through the Jacksonville, Fla., postal center, so it can take more time than you might think to request, receive and return the ballot. Here’s the link to request a ballot from the state. However, check the election guide for links and phone numbers to contact your county’s elections board.

Fight Dirt Tybee displays cigarette butts collected from the beach.

One more vote, then no butts on Tybee

Come May, Tybee Island is set to become the only beach in Coastal Georgia to ban smoking. The Tybee City Council this week had a preliminary vote for the ordinance, and a final vote next month would end smoking, vaping and all use of tobacco products on the beach. Reporter Mary Landers tells us that beyond the mess and decaying plastics left behind from cigarette butts, it’s a move that will also help keep toxic microplastics out of the ocean and away from sea life. Recent research has also found microplastics in human lungs, and that can’t be good.

forum WTRT-TV
Scene from the April 28, 2022, forum for Democratic candidates for U.S. House District 1 at Savannah State’s student WTRT-TV, sponsored by The Current. Credit: File/The Current

See the candidates

Now that the polls are opening, don’t miss your chances to see and hear them live or recorded before you cast your vote.

We’ve got recordings of forums linked at this page, plus a schedule of candidate public gatherings and more. Here’s a direct link to Tuesday night’s forum for Democratic candidates for the First District, U.S. House race, sponsored by The Current and Savannah State University’s student Tiger’s Roar TV.

A quick economic stop: Who’s better off?

Economic news brings words we haven’t heard in a bit: slow, stagnant, plateau. Here’s what an economist thinks about that: It’s all relative. Last year, the Gross Domestic Product, which measures the total value of all goods and services consumers produce and exchange, surged 5.7% — after accounting for inflation. It was the fastest pace since 1984. To prove his points, this explainer from The Conversation gives us 4 charts (and links to the data) to show who benefited from the surge.

Thursday’s candidate debate between Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue continued the bickering over debunked election fraud in Georgia. See the third round at 7 p.m. Sunday night on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Screenshot from April 28, 2022, Republican Governor primary forum.

Your second cup: The lie that binds

The “Big Lie” as it’s called — the collection of debunked conspiracy theories that rigged voting machines and human subterfuge turned the 2020 presidential election in the Democratic party’s favor — has now taken center stage in the Republican primary for Georgia governor. You can’t see or hear a clip from the recent debates that doesn’t contain some reference to voting machines or lawsuits. It’s also hard to ignore the manipulated information’s impact on the mob that entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. And the perpetuated theories also caused Congress members from Georgia, including Coastal Georgia’s Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, to attempt to disqualify the state’s certified 2020 General Election count. ProPublica has interviewed the players involved in building the multiple theories as well as those who debunked them to give us a picture of how the ‘Big Lie’ was built and when and how those who spread it knew their stories were false. It’s a detailed read, and worth your second cup.

We need your thoughts

And to celebrate May, we’re asking a quick favor: Tell us how we’re doing with Sunday Reads and our other newsletters each week. We’d like to make them more valuable to you. Click here to answer a few questions about them. Thank you in advance.

Effingham man guilty of seditious conspiracy: ‘If there’s a civil war, there’s a civil war.’

The Oath Keepers plotted for weeks about fomenting violence to keep President Trump in power after the 2020 Elections. A Georgia man’s guilty plea reveals a timeline about the militia’s seditious plot.

Coastal Georgia early voting guide

Drop points for absentee ballots, early poll locations close on May 20.

Tybee beaches step closer to smoke-free

Tybee City Council on Thursday passed the first reading of a beach smoking ban that’s been years in the making. If it passes again at its second reading in May, Tybee Island will become the first Coastal Georgia beach to prohibit smoking.

Candidate forums, recordings

It’s time to do your homework on candidates. In Georgia, nonpartisan races like school boards and judicial positions are final in the primary, unless there’s a need for a June runoff. Partisan races will choose the final two candidates to face off in the November General Election.

Watch the forum: First District, U.S. House candidates

Questions ranged from climate change to vision for Coastal Georgia’s only Congressional district.

Hottest year since ’84: who benefited in 4 charts

Measuring by net worth, it’s likely that the vast majority of Americans are better off than they were in 2020 – or even before the COVID-19 pandemic – meaning they have less debt relative to their assets. This is in no small part thanks to the trillions of dollars in pandemic-related spending by the U.S. government.

Building the ‘Big Lie’: Inside the creation of Trump’s stolen election myth

Internal emails, interviews with key participants reveal for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the rigged election theory touted evidence they knew to be disproven, disputed or dismissed as dubious.

Support non-partisan, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia.

Susan Catron is managing editor for The Current GA. She is based in Coastal Georgia and has more than two decades of experience in Georgia newspapers. Contact her at Susan...