Macon-Bibb election expected in January

mstucka@macon.comNovember 27, 2013 

Debate

Macon-Bibb County Commission District 2 candidates Henry Ficklin, left, and Larry Schlesinger answer questions Thursday at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Macon at Vineville United Methodist Church. Below, District 1 candidates Gary Bechtel and Harold Young address a small group during the event.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

Perhaps the third time will be the charm.

Macon-Bibb County Commission District 2 voters will head to the polls in January, said Elections Superintendent Jeanetta Watson.

The new government is scheduled to launch Jan. 1, though its governing board could be sworn in Dec. 31.

Watson said she was still working on details of an election schedule and will need to confer with attorneys and a judge who were in court Tuesday. The judge has said he’ll order a new election to replace the Oct. 15 runoff election.

Attorneys for candidates Larry Schlesinger and Henry Ficklin agreed with the judge Tuesday that there were no other legal options other than a new election. Voters had already narrowed the slate to Ficklin and Schlesinger with an election in September.

Watson said the election will be held after holidays but said “It’ll be before the end of January for sure. ... We want the best voter turnout. We feel like in the holidays, people aren’t really thinking about voting,” but rather thinking more about family and holidays and cooking.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections will likely meet next week to determine details of the election, Watson said. That election is likely to cost about $60,000.

Meanwhile, officials are still working to verify addresses. Watson said no one had seen that the border of District 2 was drawn to cut down the middle of the Overlook Gardens apartment complex, where all the voters were mistakenly placed in District 3. Ficklin’s attorney said Tuesday that at least 48 District 2 voters had cast ballots in District 3, far more than the 26-margin Schlesinger was given in official results.

The state’s software vendor is working on changes to allow people with similar addresses to be placed in different districts. A back-and-forth process will be used to improve accuracy, she said.

“The changes that we’re making now, once we’re done, they’ll go over it and then we’ll go and make a final check,” Watson said.

A Telegraph analysis of 2010 census data shows about 17,400 people live in the district, which is 66 percent black and 31 percent white. In the last gubernatorial election, the district voted about 73 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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