Court ruling revives effort to move Augusta elections to July | The Augusta Chronicle

29
Jun

Court ruling revives effort to move Augusta elections to July | The Augusta Chronicle

Election day for Augusta’s next mayor and half the Au­gusta Commission might be here sooner than expected.

Tuesday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court gives new hope to a Republican-led effort to move local nonpartisan races to July – a year from now.

“There are people working on it right now,” said Republican strategist Dave Barbee, a former Richmond County GOP chairman.

A bill that changed the dates of most nonpartisan county elections and those of consolidated governments from November to July was signed into law in 2011, but Augusta General Coun­sel Andrew MacKenzie and Depu­ty Georgia Attorney General Dennis Dunn held that under Augusta’s charter, the city operates as a municipality for election purposes.

A “clean-up” bill supported by Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, sought to consider all consolidated Georgia governments as counties required to hold elections in July. It was roundly rejected in December by the Justice Department as a veiled effort to dilute minority strength.

On Tuesday, a divided Su­preme Court voided the part of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain states to submit all voting changes to the Justice Department for preclearance.

Since 2006, the Justice Depart­ment has objected to only six changes filed by Georgia jurisdictions – local activities in Randolph, Lowndes, Greene and Long counties; the 2009 statewide voter verification program; and last year’s state-filed effort to include Augusta-Richmond among consolidated governments subject to July elections.

Locally, the Supreme Court decision likely lightens the Richmond County Board of Elections’ burden of filing preclearance notices for even the most innocuous activity, such as a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales.

via Court ruling revives effort to move Augusta elections to July | The Augusta Chronicle.

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