Lawsuit challenging May 20 election date for Augusta mayor and commission on fast track

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 5:27 PM
Last updated 9:15 PM
  • Follow Elections

A pending lawsuit challenging the election date of Augusta races has been put on the fast track.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall issued an order setting dates for the opposing sides to file briefs.

“Due to the urgent nature of this case the court finds it necessary to set an expedited briefing schedule,” Hall wrote.

The election of the mayor and Augusta Commission for Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 is May 20.

Absentee voting has been underway for several weeks, and early voting begins Monday.

Attorneys representing Augusta’s mayor and commission have until 5 p.m. April 30 to respond to the complaint, which seeks an injunction, and to the plaintiffs’ request for a three-judge panel to hear their challenge to the election date.

The plaintiffs will have until 5 p.m. May 5 to reply.

Although no ruling is anticipated before early voting starts, it will still begin as required by state law, said Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.

“We, of course, have no way of knowing what the future may hold. In the meantime, we have a very large, important election with many federal, state and local offices and questions on the ballot,” Bailey wrote Tuesday in an e-mail.

The lawsuit pertains only to the races for the local elected positions.

Ballots are not tabulated until the polls close at 7 p.m. May 20, Bailey wrote.

The lawsuit was filed Friday 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 suit contends the decision to move the local elections from the November general election ballot to the May 20 statewide primary violates the Voting Rights Act.

The suit cites the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice in December 2012. Justice opposed the election date change, contending it will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote.

The Justice review of voter turnout found that in 2012 and in 2010, more people turned out for the November elections than the July elections. For black registered voters, the numbers were significantly lower – 74.5 percent in November 2012, compared with 33.2 percent in July. For white voters, the numbers were 72.6 percent turnout in November 2012 and 42.5 percent turnout in July 2012.

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Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 04/22/14 - 06:17 pm
7
2
What are they thinking?

Keep all voting in November so more people will vote. It's always been that way and there is no good reason being presented to warrant a change. This may be being painted as a black and white issue but it is not. There is something far more sinister going on here.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 04/22/14 - 08:31 pm
10
0
If government were truly acting in the best ...
Unpublished

interest of its citizenry and wanted to promote maximum participation, it would consolidate elections (local/state/national) and hold them at one time.

just an opinion
2638
Points
just an opinion 04/22/14 - 10:07 pm
4
3
I'm embarrassed for all my minority friends

These plaintiffs think that because you are black, you are not going to know about the election or be able to get yourself there. How insulting!

corgimom
32303
Points
corgimom 04/22/14 - 11:06 pm
5
3
From a practical standpoint,

From a practical standpoint, does it make any sense to have an election when many people go on vacation?

No.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 04/22/14 - 11:18 pm
3
2
Some would disagree ..
Unpublished

"I'm embarrassed for all my minority friends ... because you are black, you are not going to know about the election ...etc."

Well, I'm not your minority friend, and I do know when elections are held. But I do have a job and it's tough to take time off. And I wish the state of Georgia would take that into consideration and make it easy for me to make my voice heard - by consolidating it's voting process. Or is that asking too much.

SGT49
1940
Points
SGT49 04/23/14 - 05:44 am
5
3
May 20 is not voting day. It

May 20 is not voting day. It is the last voting day. If you can't get yourself to the polls in all of the early voting days or get an absentee ballot, maybe you shouldn't be voting.

ColCo
780
Points
ColCo 04/23/14 - 05:56 am
6
2
fedex227

Advanced voting starts Monday April 28 and will include at least one Saturday, with extended hours the week before the election. You can submit an absentee application by mail, fax or email and receive an absentee ballot, but that will cost you a stamp to return. You can even choose to go to your precinct on election day. I think the State of Georgia has delivered more than enough opportunities for you to make your voice heard, it's up to you to make the effort. Here is the link to the Richmond County Board of Elections so that you can verify and decide which option best fits your busy schedule.

http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5242

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 04/23/14 - 07:53 am
5
3
It is a date. If you can't

It is a date. If you can't make a date with months lead time, what difference does it make if it is May or November? We are a nation of crying children. We have a lot of issues to address and this one does not even make my radar. I want everyone to vote who wants to, I just don't see the big deal.

Little Lamb
45938
Points
Little Lamb 04/23/14 - 08:48 am
3
2
Yes

That is the answer to Corgimom's question:

From a practical standpoint, does it make any sense to have an election when many people go on vacation?

And look at this from Fedex227:

. . . it's tough to take time off. And I wish the state of Georgia would take that into consideration and make it easy for me to make my voice heard. . . .

It already is easy. We have almost a month of advanced voting (which includes a Saturday), early voting, and absentee voting. Take advantage of it if you don't like May 20.

If the judge rules in favor of the planitiffs, he will be stopping an election after the election has already begun. If I were a candidate, I'd be miffed about that!

seenitB4
87116
Points
seenitB4 04/23/14 - 09:01 am
1
2
Yes...you are right LLamb

It already is easy. We have almost a month of advanced voting (which includes a Saturday), early voting, and absentee voting. Take advantage of it if you don't like May 20.

But some just like to complain....it is just so hard for some to break away from that.

Little Lamb
45938
Points
Little Lamb 04/23/14 - 09:07 am
2
2
Tough

Right you are, SeenIt. Here's a whine from Fedex227:

But I do have a job and it's tough to take time off.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are few day jobs that wouldn't allow a person to get to the polls before or after work and not have to take time off.

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 04/23/14 - 09:51 am
1
2
"If the judge rules in favor

"If the judge rules in favor of the planitiffs, he will be stopping an election after the election has already begun. If I were a candidate, I'd be miffed about that!"
....unless a candidate was behind this all along....

Little Lamb
45938
Points
Little Lamb 04/23/14 - 10:17 am
1
2
Good Point

That's an interesting observation, triscuit.

OJP
6634
Points
OJP 04/23/14 - 10:43 am
2
3
Power grab by the Georgia GOP

Because of shifting demographics and the end of social conservatism, the GOP needs to game the system to remain in power. They need less people to vote in order to remain in power.

Making the ballot box as accessible as possible is about as American as things get. Trying to game the system is shameful.

triscuit
3084
Points
triscuit 04/23/14 - 11:03 am
1
2
Just saying...would any one

Just saying...would any one candidate be at an advantage for an extended campaign?

ColCo
780
Points
ColCo 04/23/14 - 07:39 pm
0
0
The feds are to blame

If i'm not mistaken, the change in the federal election calendar is what prompted the date change for local elections. I seem to recall that making sure that overseas voters, particularly those in the military weren't disenfranchised was the reason for the change. I'm not exactly sure what race the Richmond County delegation is afraid the GOP is trying to "steal" from them on May 20, but this is a prime example of Richmond County smoke and mirror politics. Why address the real problems of the County when you can focus on issues that don't really matter.

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