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Long County redistricting ruled invalid

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POSTED: September 8, 2012 12:00 p.m.

Results from July’s primary election in Long County may be invalid due to issues with district lines.

According to a letter sent to the Long County Commission and the Board of Education on Aug. 27 from the U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division, the proposed district lines, which were submitted to the Justice Department, have been rejected. In the letter written by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, Long County’s proposal did not show that the proposed changes would not have a discriminatory effect.

There is concern that the district races from the election could come into question.

On Thursday, the commission and the Long County Board of Education called special meetings to discuss the matter. The BoE met with its attorneys, Jeff Arnold and Drew Johnson, and commission attorney Jay Swindell.

Arnold told the board that, according to the Justice Department, deficiencies were found in the proposed redistricting plan, which meant the plan was “not acceptable.”

Board member Florence Baggs asked if that meant the election was “null and void.”

“As it applies, yes,” Arnold said.

Arnold said one option was to redraw the district lines and run it through the legislature. The second option was to work with the Justice Department to find an administrative resolution. The board voted in favor of the second option.

Arnold said that the board would submit a request to the Justice Department to review the decision and ask that it reconsider the ruling. He said that if the department would not reconsider, the board would ask if there is any way “administratively” that the ruling could be changed.

Arnold said the Justice Department could require options such as redrawing the lines to bringing in a third party to oversee the redistricting process. Arnold said that the board has filed suit in a federal court to have a district court review the matter and offer a solution. With the possibility that the election could be invalid, two district BoE races would have to be re-voted.

 

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