Georgia Senate OKs bill to move elections to May

Augusta voters are closer to knowing for certain when they’ll elect the city’s next mayor and five commissioners.

Tuesday, the Georgia Senate approved 38-15 a bill moving the date of the state general partisan primary – when nonpartisan judges, school board members, and consolidated government offices, such as Augusta’s mayor and commission, also are voted on statewide – to a date 24 weeks prior to the general election date in November.

That date this year falls on May 20.

The consolidated government’s nonpartisan elections have been the first Tuesday in November since consolidation, but the Republican-dominated Georgia legislature forced the date change, in a move initially rejected by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Since a federal court moved the date of Georgia’s federal primary to May 20, election observers have expected the state to move the state general primary to the same date and Tuesday’s vote was the first step toward that end. The bill must now pass the Georgia House.

Expecting the change, city officials have planned a referendum on SPLOST 7 to coincide with the election of a mayor and commissioners from Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 and Super District 10 on the May ballot.

Among Augusta legislators, Republican senators Jesse Stone and Bill Jackson voted in favor of the bill while Democrat and mayoral candidate Sen. Hardie Davis was excused from the vote.

The bill moves qualifying for the posts to the week of March 3.

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