Legal challenge raised over change in election dates for Augusta local races

Monday, April 21, 2014 6:29 PM
Last updated Tuesday, April 22, 2014 5:11 AM
  • Follow Elections

A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of Augusta because of the election date change for local offices.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union, seeks an injunction against the city and a finding that the change in election dates violates the Voting Rights Act.

Early voting begins next week for the May 20 election for statewide primary races, and in Augusta for the mayor and commission districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 races.

Lynn Bailey, the director of the Board of Elections, said Monday afternoon that she had just been served with a copy of the lawsuit. The Board of Elections will need to study Georgia law to determine how to proceed if the court intervenes.

Bailey, who noted there are other races on the May 20 ballot, said that absentee ballots have been going out for three weeks.

The ACLU 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.

Local, non-partisan elections had been held in November. In 2012, the law was amended for non-partisan local elections in consolidated municipalities. Local elections are to be treated as county elections, not city, and will be held at the time of the state primary election in even number years.

According to the lawsuit, the only local government affected by that change is Augusta.

The state primary election had been held in July. This year, the General Assembly moved the state primary election to May.

The lawsuit references the Department of Justice objection to the change in Augusta’s election date in December.

Registered voters are 50.9 percent black in Augusta. The election date change would have a retrogressive effect, the lawsuit contends, because black voters are 55.4 percent less likely than white voter to turn out in July.

Ivey, one of four candidates seeking the District 4 commission seat, said moving the mayor and commission elections this close to the scheduled May 20 date won’t be an issue for his campaign.

“It doesn’t bother me, because I want the people to pick the best candidate, and the more informed you are, the better decision you will make,” Ivey said.

Ivey said the community shouldn’t be surprised about the suit due to the amount of opposition on the date change. The U.S. Department of Justice rejected the date change during the preclearance process, but state officials later decided to move forward with it when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the section of the Voting Rights Act that required Justice Department preclearance.

“Basically, you don’t get as fair representation of the turnout during the primary as you would during a regular election,” Ivey said. “We believe that our city government should be elected by a majority, not the minority.”

Commissioner Alvin Mason, who is running for mayor, chafed at the news.

“I don’t know anything about it at this point, and at this late stage of the game, they need to leave that alone,” Mason said.

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itsanotherday1
40270
Points
itsanotherday1 04/21/14 - 06:42 pm
12
2
Sounds like arguing just for

Sounds like arguing just for the sake of arguing since there are no white folk in the Augusta race. Got to get offended by something I guess since that is how some make a living.

corgimom
27969
Points
corgimom 04/21/14 - 07:44 pm
2
18
No, itsa, it's important.

No, itsa, it's important. Maybe there isn't a white candidate running now, but there will be at some point, and this will favor a white candidate.

This isn't about being "offended", this is about whether or not Georgia did something illegal when they changed the date.

Pops
6949
Points
Pops 04/21/14 - 08:18 pm
17
1
Change the date because a certain segment of society

is too lazy and sorry to turn out and vote

"The election date change would have a retrogressive effect, the lawsuit contends, because black voters are 55.4 percent less likely than white voter to turn out in July."

""It's a MADHOUSE.......""

allhans
23269
Points
allhans 04/21/14 - 08:39 pm
4
1
A cost for taxpayers and for

A cost for taxpayers and for what....

Perhaps we can start over from the beginning and add other segments.

corgimom
27969
Points
corgimom 04/21/14 - 08:51 pm
2
17
It has nothing to do with

It has nothing to do with being lazy and sorry, Pops.

I think it has far more to do with their children being out of school and having nobody to watch them, and unable to get transportation for them and their children.

My mother didn't drive, and when my father was in Germany, it was very difficult for her to go places with us 3 kids, so I sympathize.

bright idea
709
Points
bright idea 04/21/14 - 09:02 pm
8
3
Never satisfied

Most gonna' sit out this year anyway cause no Obama on the ballot. Plus they need more time to get a picture ID.

just an opinion
2357
Points
just an opinion 04/21/14 - 09:16 pm
8
1
They scream racism so often....

we won't know if it actually ever happens. It's like always crying wolf. Who knows if it's for real.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 04/21/14 - 09:18 pm
10
2
Why change

Why change the voting day in the first place? It should be in November like it always has been. One trip voting reduces the burden on the voter therefore they are more likely to vote. That's just common sense. This change in law actually encourages people NOT to vote. Which may be the intent...who knows? At any rate, just more confusion from those elected to bring order.

Pops
6949
Points
Pops 04/21/14 - 09:31 pm
16
1
Always an excuse

Can't graduate.....can't stay out of jail.....can't or won't work.....can't get out and vote.......cry me a river.....

fedex227
10739
Points
fedex227 04/21/14 - 09:54 pm
5
12
Such an issue with the Georgia GOP ...

Historically, voter turnout was at it's highest during the month of November. Yet for some reason Republicans felt the need to change it. Whichever side of the politcal spectrum you fall on, can't you honestly ask yourselves, why the need for change?

corgimom
27969
Points
corgimom 04/21/14 - 10:02 pm
2
8
It traditionally was held in

It traditionally was held in November, because the harvest was over, but the roads were usually still passable.

nocnoc
38566
Points
nocnoc 04/21/14 - 10:26 pm
8
1
Actually saw something like this happening.

Since it is a 100% Black mayor race, there is NO grounds for Racial issues. 99.99% sure The DOJ position will be NO-GROUNDS & shot down.

This has to be more for Press and Media attention than for actual outcome.

Besides it is too late in the game. The Federal Judge will likely rule the ACLU waited too long, and the disruption and Confusion it will cause with the voters are not worth it.

I am still betting we have a SPLOST Vote May 20th.
Because we have already had the SHAM Court Challenge .

Darby
23604
Points
Darby 04/21/14 - 10:52 pm
8
1
The good old ACLU

strikes AGAIN.

This one they're gonna lose!

But be careful, there's a racist behind every tree.

dichotomy
30634
Points
dichotomy 04/21/14 - 11:25 pm
9
1
Gee Alvin, looks like the

Gee Alvin, looks like the ACLU is going to delay your coronation. Does this mean we will have re-qualifying and possibly some more candidates....or heaven forbid...even some white candidates?

One reason to move the election date for local offices and issues is that people would pay more attention to the local stuff and not just get caught up in Republican/Democrat national election rhetoric. A good example already has been this mayoral race. There has already been more attention paid to the mayoral race and the SPLOST than there EVER has been in the past when these things were on the November ballot. But NOOO, we can't have people actually paying attention. The ACLU says y'all can't handle it.

WarrenvilleRepublican
161
Points
WarrenvilleRepublican 04/21/14 - 11:48 pm
10
2
Race?

So the changing of the election date is more of a burden to one race than another? That is ridiculous. The date is changed for everyone. EVERYONE. One race of people do not benefit nor does another race of people have less of a chance to vote. If things continue to go down a road like this we will have door to door pollsters collecting votes because it is not fair "some people" can get to their polling station while others can't leave home. Absentee ballots be damned.

SGT49
1653
Points
SGT49 04/22/14 - 05:47 am
10
1
With weeks of early voting

With weeks of early voting and absentee ballots, if you can't get your sorry rear end to the polls, then you don't deserve to vote. People around the world risk their lives for to vote.

Junior Dawg
309
Points
Junior Dawg 04/22/14 - 07:21 am
8
1
Ridiculous....

Why don't we have a delivery service to help out the lazy folks?

This lawsuit is exactly what's wrong with this country! Everything we do is deemed racist by the black community. Tell me, what can't we do that you won't cry racism about? Lawmakers improved the election process and still the cries of racism....geez

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 04/22/14 - 07:27 am
9
1
"I think it has far more to
Unpublished

"I think it has far more to do with their children being out of school and having nobody to watch them, and unable to get transportation for them and their children."

GIVE US A BREAK. The democrats have buses that will pick up anybody that is breathing including children. It is ALL ABOUT being lazy.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 04/22/14 - 07:31 am
4
1
"Can't graduate.....can't
Unpublished

"Can't graduate.....can't stay out of jail.....can't or won't work.....can't get out and vote.......cry me a river....."
Pops, if you are an old white guy it is your fault, ask Obama he has said as much.

seenitB4
81564
Points
seenitB4 04/22/14 - 07:35 am
4
2
Race race race race

Is there another place to live without this CONSTANT race baiting crap?

nocnoc
38566
Points
nocnoc 04/22/14 - 07:41 am
4
1
Why Race Cards and Race Baiting

If you want to weaken a Country or bring it down?

Divide it against itself 1st.

justthefacts
20404
Points
justthefacts 04/22/14 - 07:49 am
12
1
I wonder

Does the average Joe, who happens to be black, ever get tired of his leaders presenting him as too dumb to secure ID, get to the polls, or anything else that the average Joe, who happens to be white, apparently can figure how to do? Pretty insulting it seems.

Bodhisattva
5620
Points
Bodhisattva 04/22/14 - 08:11 am
3
7
If anyone says they didn't

If anyone says they didn't move the election date to suppress the vote they're lying to themselves and to others. Don't forget SPLOST is on the ballot. Also, unless I'm doing something wrong (a distinct possibility) good ol' Georgia's Sec. of State website won't allow you to even view a sample ballot unless you're a registered voter in the county and enter you initial, last name, and DOB, and show up on the voter roll. Any time the powers that be come up with a plan (plot) that will funnel tax dollars to themselves or to their cronies, or a controversial plan (plot) that no one but them wants, which election would you guess it will it show up on, November or May (the one with the lowest turnout)? Not hard to figure out is it?

Little Lamb
43853
Points
Little Lamb 04/22/14 - 08:21 am
4
1
No Proof

Corgimom posted:

. . . this (holding May elections for County Commissioner, Mayor, Tax Commissioner, Coroner and judges) will favor a white candidate.

Please provide some data, some facts, some evidence that holding elections in May favors white candidates.

And remember this, just because we've never done it this way before is not a valid response.

Pops
6949
Points
Pops 04/22/14 - 09:16 am
8
1
Let's increase the voter turnout for the African-Americans

Let's have a turkey and toy giveaway at every polling place May 20th. I predict a turnout of over 115%.........

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 04/22/14 - 09:29 am
1
4
dichotomy..

So let me get this right; you AGREE with Alvin Mason it should not be changed yet you attack him for ya'lls position?

bohica
210
Points
bohica 04/22/14 - 10:32 am
3
1
Like Hillary said, why does

Like Hillary said, why does it matter at this point?
Augusta Richmond will always be a regressive city.
Why would anyone want to move here is beyond me.

Dixieman
12942
Points
Dixieman 04/22/14 - 11:28 am
5
1
Liberals and Northerners....

...still think it is 1956 around here.
Well, wake up and smell the coffee. It ain't. This is a legitimate and proper change.

Pond Life
16853
Points
Pond Life 04/22/14 - 11:45 am
4
1
"Historically, voter turnout

"Historically, voter turnout was at it's highest during the month of November. "

You think the reason would be because that is when elections are actually held? Of course that's when turnout is highest.

Pond Life
16853
Points
Pond Life 04/22/14 - 11:32 am
3
2
"If anyone says they didn't

"If anyone says they didn't move the election date to suppress the vote they're lying to themselves and to others. "

Ok Bod, put up or shut up. Who's vote is being suppressed by moving the date? Explain how it ONLY suppresses the vote of that group and not everyone equally. We would LOVE to hear your explanation..........I doubt we will, since you rarely back up your baseless statements.

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