Peake: Bibb Can Proceed With Nonpartisan Election

12:41 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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After Tuesday's Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act, one Macon Republican is declaring victory in the battle over whether Bibb County can hold nonpartisan elections for a consolidated government.

By text, state Rep. Allen Peake told 13WMAZ that he'd discussed the ruling with state legislative legal counsel.

"With the formula struck, no one is subject to it," he wrote. "You can say with the formula struck down, Macon can proceed with elections."

But a Macon Democrat, state Rep. James Beverly, urges officials to "hold off just a second." He said it's unclear whether the election can go ahead without further word from the Justice Department.

Georgia is one of nine states, most in the South, whose elections are supervised by the Justice Dept. under the Voting Rights Act, to protect against discriminatory voting practices.

But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the law with the formula on how which states would be covered.

On Eyewitness News Midday, Rep. Beverly said the election as planned still disenfranchises 2012 voters for consolidation who thought they were approving partisan elections. 

Less than a year after the General Assembly pushed through a consolidation charter with partisan elections, it switched to non-partisan voting.

That angered some Bibb County Democrats who asked the Justice Dept. to overturn that under the Voting Rights Act.

Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams is reviewing the Supreme Court decision.

Adams' office told 13WMAZ that he had a copy of the opinion and had no comment "at this time."

In May, the Justice Department suspended the July 16 elections while it examined whether the election complies with the Voting Rights Act.

County officials answered questions from the Justice Department earlier this month and have been waiting for a final decision.

The Democrats argued that holding the election in July would reduce the impact of black voters who, statistics show, are less likely to vote in summer elections. They also argued for partisan elections, continuing the practice in the city of Macon and Bibb County.

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