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Sun May 5, 2013, 01:31 PM

The Democratic Party of Bibb County needs YOUR help!

The short version is this:

Bibb County, Georgia, is majority African-American and solidly Democratic. We're under attack from a Republican state legislature that voted to make our elections non-partisan (a Republican can not win a county-wide election here) and to have our elections occur in July (hurts Democrats who are more likely to vote in November elections). The Department of Justice is currently reviewing this case pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We feel that the State of Georgia should be denied the power to change our elections in this way because the legislature's acts constitute de facto discrimination and were intended to be discriminatory against a historically-opressed people in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The long version (my own letter to the Justice Department) is this:

To Whom It May Concern:

The Justice Department is currently reviewing an Act of the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly to allow Nonpartisan, July Elections in Macon, Georgia and Bibb County, Georgia. I urge you to deny preclearance for said elections.

The citizens of Macon and Bibb County narrowly approved a referendum last year that provided for the consolidation of the governments of the City of Macon and Bibb County. The referendum was completely non-binding because its implementation depended entirely upon the will of the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly. Local Republicans generally favored consolidation (as its effects would be to eliminate the seats of several Democratic officeholders and to reduce the political power of the Democratic Party in Bibb County). Many local Democrats, myself included, opposed consolidation for the same reasons. The actual terms of the consolidation referendum were hotly debated and carefully negotiated between state representatives of both parties because everyone knew that some Republican support would be required to push the consolidation bill through the Georgia General Assembly, whereas some Democratic support would be required to get the consolidation referendum passed in strongly-Democratic Bibb County. As such, the two groups made a deal, each side giving a little to gain a consensus.

The Georgia General Assembly passed the consolidation bill, and then promptly stabbed Bibb County’s Democrats in the back by amending the law (SB 25, 26, 30 and 31) to make local elections nonpartisan (favoring Republicans—one can’t win a county-wide office in Bibb County unless one runs as a Democrat) and to have elections held in July (also favoring Republicans—because Democrats are more likely to turn out to vote in November elections). These points were negotiated between the members of the state delegation that drafted the 2012 consolidation referendum. The people of Macon and Bibb County voted for partisan elections in November, not for nonpartisan elections in July. The actions of the Georgia General Assembly, in regards to this matter, constitute de facto discrimination and a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as Bibb County is majority African-American. The will of the people of Bibb County has been thwarted by the Georgia General Assembly for reasons that are, in my opinion, related to race. It is likely that the Georgia General Assembly acted with the specific intent of disenfranchising African-American voters and injuring the political institution that facilitates and insures African-American participation in local government. I refer, specifically, to the Democratic Party of Bibb County, Georgia.

I was proud to vote for President Obama in 2008. I am further pleased that he was re-elected in 2012, in part because I prefer to have Democrats running the Justice Department. We now need the aid of the Justice Department in thwarting the plans of a Republican General Assembly that seeks to weed out Democratic officeholders and to dilute African-American voting power whenever and wherever possible.

I urge you to find that the acts of the Georgia General Assembly, in regards to this matter, constitute a violation of the Voting Rights Act and to deny preclearance for nonpartisan elections in July in Bibb County, Georgia.

I thank you for your service to the people of the United States and for your kind attention to this pressing matter.

Very truly yours,


If you can help us, we would appreciate it. The Justice Department accepts comments on proposed changes to voting laws for a period of sixty days after they are submitted. Please comment at the following e-mail address and copy and paste the following for the subject line: comment: 2013-0633, 2013-1055, 2013-1159.

[email protected]

Or, if you prefer, snail mail comments may be sent to the following address:

Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
Room 7254 - NWB
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Feel free to cut and paste from my letter if that would be useful. We would greatly appreciate any help we can get on this. The Democratic Party of Bibb County is a relatively weak and cash-starved outfit as is, but this law will crush us if it is not overturned by the Justice Department.

Feel free to contact the White House directly as well, here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Mercifully, we have a Democratic President running the Justice Department. I hope he hears the cry of this little, county party fighting for justice in the middle of a hostile, red sea. Please, help him hear us.

Thanks in advance!

-Laelth

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Democratic Party of Bibb County needs YOUR help! (Original post)
Laelth May 2013 OP
dawg May 2013 #1
Laelth May 2013 #3
Sheri May 2013 #2
Laelth May 2013 #4
HiPointDem May 2013 #5
Laelth May 2013 #8
CottonBear May 2013 #6
Laelth May 2013 #10
cordelia May 2013 #7
Laelth May 2013 #9
Laelth May 2013 #11
Hell Hath No Fury May 2013 #12
Laelth May 2013 #13
JSWoodman Jul 2013 #14

Response to Laelth (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 01:37 PM

1. I sincerely hope the Republican Party is currently at it's high water mark here in Georgia ...

and that it will be all downhill for them from here. The level of intolerance and unfairness coming out of our legislature is unbecoming of our diverse and modern state. Surely, the people will eventually wake up and send these goons packing.

But we need the help of the national party. It would be foolish to write off Georgia as a lost cause.

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Response to dawg (Reply #1)

Sun May 5, 2013, 02:33 PM

3. Georgia is, indeed, trending blue.

I can't remember where I saw this factoid, but I think Georgia is third (behind North Carolina and Texas) in terms of states that are likely to turn blue in the next few election cycles.

Georgia is gerrymandered like crazy, so it may take a while, but the demographics say it will happen. It's only a matter of time.

Thanks for the response.

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 01:47 PM

2. please k & r this thread.

we can use all the help we can get.

btw, nice work, laelth.

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Response to Sheri (Reply #2)

Sun May 5, 2013, 03:29 PM

4. Thanks for the kick and the kind words. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 04:07 PM

5. kr

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #5)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:46 PM

8. Many thanks for the k&r. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 05:36 PM

6. The GA GOP already did this to Athens-Clarke County, GA


we now have non-partisan county commission and other county elected office elections because we were/are a BLUE town and elections are now held in July (instead of November) when many UGA students are away and many families/year-round residents are on vacation. Did I mention that they split our county into two (GOP majority)state voting districts and redistricted our Democratic congressman out of our district thus eventually inflicting Paul Broun, Jr. on us.

It is just awful. We live in a tiny blue island of NE GA red and the GA GOP rethugs are trying to do us in completely.

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #6)

Mon May 6, 2013, 12:09 PM

10. Indeed. The GA GOP is quite vile.

Macon and Bibb County are but the latest of a number of consolidation actions in the state. When we looked into the issue (and we have been thinking about it for some time), we found very mixed results from other cities and counties in the state that had consolidated. On the one hand, consolidation should create a more progressive taxation system because it distributes the costs of running the city (from which all nearby residents benefit) to all residents of the county and not just the residents of the city. On the other hand, consolidation dilutes minority votes and, as a result, hurts Democrats a little.

With our consolidation law, here in Macon-Bibb, we Democrats got the worst of two worlds. Our consolidation charter maintains a higher tax rate for city residents until the city's indebtedness is paid off. We agreed to that in order to, eventually, get more tax revenues from county residents who were not city residents. Then, the General Assembly amended the law, without input from local Democrats, to have non-partisan elections in July (as opposed to the partisan elections in November to which the people of Bibb County consented in a 2012 referendum).

We feel shafted, and this is part of why I opposed the consolidation bill from the very beginning. If the process is completely controlled by Georgia's Republican General Assembly, which it is, then it's quite stupid to expect the results to be good. As it turns out, the results are bad, as many of us expected. Sorry that Athens-Clarke had the same experience. Athens is one of the coolest and most liberal cities in Georgia, and it saddens me to know that its liberal political power has been diminished by consolidation.

Regards,

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 06:52 PM

7. Kick

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Response to cordelia (Reply #7)

Mon May 6, 2013, 06:55 AM

9. Thanks for the kick. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2013, 03:39 PM

11. One last kick. We really do need all the help we can get. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Mon May 6, 2013, 03:43 PM

12. K&R

 

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Response to Hell Hath No Fury (Reply #12)

Tue May 7, 2013, 08:09 AM

13. Thanks for the k&r. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 11:45 AM

14. Media query

Hi Laelth,

I'm a journalist who writes about social justice. I'm very interested in the Macon-Bibb election change. I'd really like to learn a bit more about this. Any chance you could send me an email at [email protected]?

Thanks!
Spencer

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