Seeking a judge to approve date smart move by board

July 10, 2013 

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Bibb County residents (taking some liberties with Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”) But even Alice at the bottom of her Rabbit Hole would find Bibb County elections confusing as well as curious.

Dates for qualifying for the new consolidated government have moved three times; the latest and hopefully last date is July 22-24. The move actually makes sense. The previous date approved late last month was Aug. 5-7 with the election scheduled for Sept. 17. That was too close for comfort and didn’t allow enough campaigning time between qualifying and the vote.

Now the Bibb County Board of Elections voted 3-1 to ask the county’s attorney, Virgil Adams, to seek the blessing of a federal judge on the election date. There are two good reasons for this move: It will settle the lawsuit brought by District 4 candidate Mallory Jones III and it will give pause to anyone who might be thinking about filing another lawsuit before or after the election. Such a suit would lead to more legal fees and the feeling among some that the election was somehow illegitimate, just what a fledgling government needs. The move is also an indication that commissioners who had their majority vote upended by the Board of Elections are not holding a grudge -- rather they have, by their acquiescence, said, “Let’s move on.”

In a side note, according to Adams, the Bibb County Democratic Party does not have the power to remove a Board of Elections member. Only a judge can do that, and we doubt any judge would give such an order. Steve Allen resigned from the executive committee of the Democratic Party because it voted to remove him from the board for his vote to hold September rather than November elections.

Partisan politics dies hard. Maybe there should be an effort to change the board’s makeup to appoint five nonpartisan members, rather than splitting four of the five seats between Republicans and Democrats.

While state, federal and some local offices remain partisan, the Board of Elections should be about running fair and efficient elections, not party posturing. There is no need for partisanship now, if there ever was a need, because beginning in January, the coroner, magistrate, civil and probate judges, water authority and school board members will all become nonpartisan once the present officeholder’s terms end.

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