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Three Big Things
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Georgia governor election: Judge orders review of provisional ballots

Georgia governor election: Judge orders review of provisional ballots

A federal judge on Monday ordered election officials to review thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been counted in Georgia’s close election for governor. >> Watch the news report here U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s order calls for a hotline for voters to check if their provisional ballots were counted, a review of voter registrations, and updated reports from the state government about why many voters were required to use provisional ballots. The court decision comes as votes are still being counted in the race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams trails Kemp and would need to gain more than 20,000 additional votes to force a runoff election. >> Jamie Dupree: Dems win Senate seat in Arizona, as Florida’s Scott heads to D.C. Totenberg said she’s providing “limited, modest” relief to help protect voters. The order preserves Tuesday’s deadline for county election offices to certify results and the Nov. 20 deadline for Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to certify the election. The ruling enjoins Crittenden from certifying the election before Friday at 5 p.m. Her ruling applies to provisional ballots, which were issued to as many as 27,000 Georgia voters because their registration or identification couldn’t be verified. Provisional ballots are usually only counted if voters prove their eligibility within three days of the election, a deadline that passed Friday. The decision doesn’t say whether additional provisional ballots could be counted after election results are certified at the county level Tuesday.  “This ruling is a victory for the voters of Georgia because we are all stronger when every eligible voter is allowed to participate in our elections,” said Sara Henderson, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, which filed the lawsuit. The Secretary of State’s Office is reviewing the judge’s order and considering its options, said spokeswoman Candice Broce. >> Read more trending news  Several voters told the judge in sworn statements that they thought they were registered but were turned away when they tried to vote. Only after repeated efforts were they given provisional ballots, and they said they still don’t know if their votes were counted. The court order said there were more provisional ballots cast this election than normal, and that the voter registration system could be vulnerable to inaccuracies. “The right to vote is fundamental, and no one should lose that right because of mistakes in the voter registration database,” said Myrna Perez of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice. — AJC staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.

UGA says students are graduating at record pace

UGA says students are graduating at record pace

An expanded slate of programs at the University of Georgia tailored to the needs and ambitions of students is helping them earn their degrees in record time. The university’s four-year completion rate has moved up 2 percentage points to reach a record 68 percent, and 75 percent of UGA students earn their degrees in four years plus one semester. For comparison, the average four-year graduation rate at UGA’s highly selective aspirational institutions is 69 percent, while the average four-year graduation rates for peer and SEC institutions are 53 percent and 49 percent, respectively. The university’s six-year completion rate moved up 1 percentage point to reach a record 86 percent, which is just 1 percentage point shy of the 87 percent six-year completion rate for the university’s aspirational institutions. UGA’s 86 percent six-year completion rate exceeds the 76 percent average for UGA’s peer institutions as well as the 72 percent average for Southeastern Conference institutions. “It is exciting to see the results of several UGA initiatives to increase student success building on one another to produce record-setting outcomes for our students,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “These achievements also reflect the dedication of faculty and staff across campus to helping our students attain their goals.” Promoting Academic Success UGA provides a range of programs that promote academic success while building community among students with similar interests and aspirations. Schools and colleges, the Division of Student Affairs, Public Service and Outreach and the Office of Instruction are among the many units that work, often in tandem, to create a learning environment that keeps students on track to graduate while also helping them grow and thrive as individuals. Programs such as the Freshman College Summer Experience, Dawg Campand the First-Year Odyssey Seminar program lay a strong foundation in the very first year of a student’s college experience. Academic advising, which has been bolstered with increased face-to-face support and new digital tools, helps students navigate their coursework and choice of majors. UGA is the nation’s largest public university to ensure that each of its undergraduate students engages in hands-on learning such as internships, research, study abroad and service-learning. A small class size initiative and a recently completed Investing in the Student Experience hiring initiativehave lowered the student-to-faculty ratio and enabled more personalized academic support. This fall the university launched two new Living Learning Communities—one focused on entrepreneurship and another focused on research—that connect students with exclusive learning opportunities, facilities and faculty mentors. In addition, a program known as Double Dawgs gives students more than 150 opportunities to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years or less. President’s Task Force Initiatives Recommendations from the university’s Task Force on Student Learning and Success, charged by Morehead, have resulted in an active learning initiative that is promoting higher levels of student engagement and success by transforming traditional classrooms into environments that foster critical thinking, discussion and teamwork. A new program known as ALL Georgia, which also stems from the work of the task force, supports students from rural parts of Georgia with a network of resources and common experiences. It also provides financial aid for six outstanding students from the state’s rural areas per year, for a total of 24 students. Tailored academic and support programs such as these have helped the university jump three spots to No. 13 in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranking of best public national universities—the highest U.S. News ranking in UGA’s history—and also earned the university a No. 12 national ranking in Kiplinger’s list of best values in public colleges. The university’s career outcomes rate is at a record level as well, with 96 percent of students either employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. “Each and every student at the University of Georgia has a support network of faculty, staff and peers who are deeply invested in their success,” said Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris. “Our record completion rates are a cause for celebration—for our students and for the entire university community.”

Democrats rally behind Abrams in Georgia vote fight

As a pair of federal judges issued rulings to force the counting of provisional and absentee ballots in the race for Governor in Georgia, Democrats in the Congress demanded a full count in the state, accusing Republican Brian Kemp of being worried about tallying all the votes in his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

“In Georgia, every vote should be counted,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “And that is how our candidate can have a fair shot.”

Appearing at a Capitol Hill event of the National Action Network, a civil rights group run by Rev. Al Sharpton, Klobuchar teed off on [More]