Friday, January 27, 2023

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High Court Victory For Black Voters Challenging Georgia's Election Rules

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Monday, August 22, 2022   

The Supreme Court is upholding a victory for Black voters who claimed Georgia's elections process for electing members to the statewide Public Service Commission seat is discriminatory.

November's elections for two of the five Georgia PSC seats will not be held after the high court ruled Friday the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta made an error in allowing the elections to continue as planned.

Wanda Mosley, national field director for the Black Voters Matter Fund, is a plaintiff in the case. She said she was elated for the initial court ruling, which found the redrawing of PSC Districts 2 and 3 diluted the Black vote after expert testimony in the case.

"To hear a Trump-appointed judge say that indeed Black votes have been diluted was a huge actual victory and moral victory for us," Mosley asserted. "We know this, we live this, we see this, we experience this."

The state appealed, and the 11th Circuit halted Judge Steven Grimberg's ruling, citing the "Purcell principle," which discourages courts from changing election rules immediately before an election.

The Supreme Court stated the appeals court should use a different legal framework, but late Friday the state withdrew its motion for an emergency stay, claiming since printing ballots for the elections starts today, pursuing the motion would jeopardize the process.

Under Georgia's current system, commissioners run statewide but must live in one of five districts. However, this year lawmakers redrew the boundaries of voting districts in Georgia to reflect new census numbers and the changes affected the PSC seats, which Mosley feels were gerrymandered.

"This happens all throughout the country and the fact that we just sit and ignore it and accept it is frustrating," Mosley stated. "Especially for folks who are in these so-called marginalized communities where we have been left to feel as though we don't have power, but we do. Our votes are very powerful."

According to Georgia Secretary of State spokesman Mike Hassinger, all the changes mean PSC vice-chairman Tim Echols and commissioner Fitz Johnson, both Republicans, will continue to serve on the PSC until elections can be called. Echols was about to go against Democrat Patty Durand and Libertarian Colin McKinney in the District 2 race, while the District 3 contest would have had Johnson facing Democrat Sheila Edwards.


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