Plaintiffs in election date lawsuit file response to city of Augusta

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 7:11 PM
Last updated 8:56 PM
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The plaintiffs challenging the election date for Augusta’s local offices filed their response Wednesday to the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

It will now be up to U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall to decide how to proceed with the lawsuit that contends the election date change for local elections violates the Voting Rights Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of Augusta residents Rep. Henry Howard, Rep. Earnest Smith, Rep. Gloria Frazier, Thomas Walker, Kenneth Martin, commission candidate Melvin Ivey, and Albert Robinson Jr.

The plaintiffs seek an injunction against the election date change from the November general election to the May 20 primary election. They contend the move will result in discrimination against minority voters, whose turnout is much lower in past primary elections compared to white voter turnout. The plaintiffs also want a three-judge panel to hear their case.

Absentee and early voting already have begun. The local races on the ballot are for mayor and commission districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 races.

The city relies on a U.S. Supreme Court case decided in June, Shelby County v. Holder, to contend no three-judge panel is necessary and that the lawsuit should be dismissed. The city contends that decision has invalidated the provision of the Voting Rights Act law required preclearance by the U.S. Justice Department of any election changes.

The requirement inserted in 1965 applied only to the states where voters had been required to pass certain tests to be eligible to vote, and where minority voter turnout was 12 percent or lower than the national average. Georgia was one of those states.

In their response to the city’s motions, the plaintiffs contend that the Supreme Court didn’t strike down the Voting Rights Act, only the formula created in 1965.

The Supreme Court noted in the Shelby decision, decided by a 5-4 majority, that history didn’t stop in 1965 and that current conditions must be considered pertinent factors.

The plaintiffs also pointed to another passage in the decision: “Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting.”

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Dixieman 05/08/14 - 05:12 am

has no business trying to rule us. Go away.

southern2 05/08/14 - 05:41 am
"They contend the move will

"They contend the move will result in discrimination against minority voters, whose turnout is much lower in past primary elections compared to white voter turnout."

Wait a minute....I thought whites were the minority in ARC. This privileged status argument is worn out.

Why would a date be discriminating to anyone especially with all the other dates and absentee opportunities to cast your ballot? This is about as ridiculous as not wanting to show an ID.

corgimom 05/08/14 - 06:58 am
ACLU has every legal right to

ACLU has every legal right to file a lawsuit, and gosh darn that pesky Constitution!

dickworth1 05/08/14 - 07:11 am
Meaning of words

Does Henry Howard, ACLU, and the other plaintiffs hae any idea of what the word minority means, it is not a word about color of skin it is about which race is the smallest in population for a designated area,in this case Augusta-Richmond County and according to the last census blacks are now the majority in the county and this lawsuit should be dismiss and the plaintiffs should have to pay all legal cost for bringing such a trivial suit. The second point is to get everyone out to vote and if the majority or minority decide not to vote then it is nothing you can do about it. Maybe the federal courts should rule on who is entitled for minority programs because the makeup of the county is majority black.

Butterman 05/08/14 - 11:16 am
They probably will win

and they should. Moving the election from November to May was all about protecting the power of The Cabal.

Brad Owens
Brad Owens 05/08/14 - 03:01 pm
They win not win..

This is a waste of time and money. They could maybe contest the results, but after the voting has started there isn't a practical way of doing this. Judge Hall will not rule in favor of stopping this election based on voter turnout less that fiver points apart from one end of the year to the other.

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