The U.S. Justice Department put off the July elections for the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government until state legislators explain how they decided the timing and non-partisan format of the election.
Less than a year after pushing through a consolidation charter with partisan elections in November, Georgia’s General Assembly this year decided that elections for the new consolidated government would be nonpartisan and held July 16.
That angered some Bibb County Democrats who asked the Justice Dept. to overturn that under the Voting Rights Act.
The Democrats argued that holding the election in July would reduce the impact of black voters who, statistics show, are less likely to vote in summer elections. They also argued for partisan elections, continuing the practice in the city of Macon and Bibb County.
That 60-day deadline extends beyond the original scheduled date of the election, July 16.
State Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican, helped put together the non-partisan bill. Peake said local state lawmakers don’t necessarily have notes and minutes of the meetings they held where non-partisan elections were discussed.
While Peake expressed disappointment in the Justice Department request, he also said he and the other delegation members will collect what they do have and make it available to Justice Department officials.
Peake also said the issue could become a moot point if the U.S. Supreme rules unconstituional that portion of the voting rights act that says the Justice Department can review any voting changes in several states including Georgia and Alabama.
The case before the Supreme Court involves a challenge from Selby Couny in Alabama, which questions whether Section 5 of trhe 1965 Voting Rights Act remains applicable today.