Georgia Utilities Commission Elections Canceled After U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

In the filing, attorneys for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — the state’s top election official — said ballot printing for the Nov. 8 election would begin Monday and pursuing the motion to stay would jeopardize preparations.

“Now that the general election preparations are in full swing, it is time to put an end to all the uncertainties that threaten to disrupt the governance of the Georgian elections and further confuse Georgian voters,” Raffensperger said in a statement. a statement. “While we will continue the state’s appeal on the merits of the order, no decision will be made in time for the November elections.”

The developments mean that PSC Vice Chairman Tim Echols and Commissioner Fitz Johnson, both Republicans, will continue to serve on the PSC until elections can be called for their seats, said Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for Raffensperger’s office.

Echols would face Democrat Patty Durand and Libertarian Colin McKinney in the District 2 race, while the District 3 race would have pitted Johnson against Democrat Sheila Edwards.

Hassinger added that the two incumbents will remain with the PSC even if the appeals case is not decided until next year.

The rulings are the latest legal drama surrounding the PSC and Georgia’s demands on candidates for the commission.

The PSC’s five seats are voted on statewide, but candidates must reside in one of the five districts 12 months prior to the general election.

On Thursday, in a separate case in Fulton County Superior Court, Judge Melynee Leftridge ruled that Durand could remain in the District 2 race because it was unconstitutional to apply the residency requirements in her case. Durand’s lawyers had argued that Echols and Republican President Tricia Pridemore coordinated with state lawmakers to get Durand out of the new district boundaries.

Edwards, the Democratic nominee for District 3 PSC, also fought a challenge earlier this year to give her eligibility.

Those legal victories in state courts don’t seem right for the time being.

The federal voting trial that caught the attention of the Supreme Court on Friday was delayed by the pandemic and was dismissed in June.

the lawsuit is about whether Georgia’s system of state elections for PSC committee seats is weakening the power of black voters.

Nearly one-third of Georgia’s voters are black, but the state’s white majority typically elects Republicans. Only one black candidate has ever won a Public Service Commission election in the body’s 143-year history.

State attorneys argued at trial in U.S. district court that just because candidates favored by black voters have not often won, that doesn’t mean elections are discriminatory statewide.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has taken this important step to ensure that November’s PSC elections are not held using a method that unduly dilutes the votes of millions of black citizens in Georgia,” said Attorney General Nico Martinez. prosecutors. “We look forward to presenting the merits of our case on appeal and are confident that the court’s well-reasoned decision will eventually be upheld.”

– Staff writer Mark Niesse contributed to this report.

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