May 20th Primary Election in Augusta
UPDATE: U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall on May 13, 2014, ruled in favor of the city in a lawsuit filed over the election date for local, nonpartisan races. Georgia can no longer be forced to seek the U.S. Department of Justice’s pre-clearance to any change in the election process.
The lawsuit was filed April 18 on behalf of Augusta residents: Rep. Henry Howard, Rep. Earnest Smith, Rep. Gloria Frazier, Thomas Walker, Kenneth Martin, Augusta Commission candidate Melvin Ivey and Albert Robinson Jr. It contended that the decision to move the local elections from the November general election ballot to the May 20 statewide primary election ballot violates the Voting Rights Act.
The three state lawmakers that filed the suit want a judge to move the elections back to November, and they are using a 2012 Department of Justice report that found that moving the election could decrease the minority vote for their claim. Augusta-Richmond County commissioners voted to move the election date last year, and the Board of Elections is continuing with the May 20 election.