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Bibb Election Board Sets Mayoral Vote for Sept. 17

9:12 PM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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Bibb County's Board of Elections voted Thursday to set the first election for the new consolidated government for September 17 -- overruling the County Commission, which hours before had chosen a date in November.

The decision appears to end months of dispute over the election date.

The Board of Elections overruled the county commission's recommendation to hold the election on November 5.

The county commission chose that date despite advice from County Attorney Virgil Adams that the election must be held on Georgia's next special election day -- Sept. 17.

When the county commission picked November 5, commission candidate Mallory Jones filed a Federal lawsuit demanding the election be held at the "earliest-possible lawful date."

Thursday night, 13WMAZ asked Jones if there's a chance he might withdraw the suit now that the election has been set for Sept. 17.  He said he would not be changing his mind.

The election is the first for the mayor and commission of consolidated Macon-Bibb County. They take office in January. 

The election board actually voted twice on Thursday. 

The first vote was 2-1. Chair Rinda Wilson was absent and vice-chairman Steve Allen abstained.

But then, Macon councilman Henry Ficklin, watching in the audience, questioned whether two yes votes on a five-member board were enough. Ficklin is also a candidate for the new county commission.

Board members retreated behind closed doors with county attorney Adams to review the board by-laws.

The board emerged and voted a second time. This time, Allen added a third yes vote. Allen said later he thought he was barred from voting because he presided at the meeting.

The election was originally scheduled for July 16. But in late May, the U.S. Justice Department suspended the election to investigate complaints that holding it in the summer would disenfranchise African-Americans, because they tend to vote in lower numbers than whites in summer elections. 

Until Tuesday, the Justice Department had the final say, known as "pre-clearance," on calling elections in Georgia, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Bibb County was still waiting for the Justice Department's decision when, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court effectively struck down pre-clearance. And the county moved ahead to set a date for the election.

The vote can no longer be held on July 16 as originally planned because military and overseas voters must have ballots 45 days before the election.


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