However, Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration Supervisor Janet Munda said despite the close deadline, she doesn’t believe there will be any issues with receiving the ruling from the U.S. Department of Justice in time.
School Board Attorney Tom Roach said he sent the proposed school board maps to the federal department for pre-clearance April 5.
House Bill 978 was voted on by the local delegation and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on March 29. The bill outlines the new district lines and changes the way voters would elect the school board.
It creates a countywide-elected chairman position and draws two board members, Chairman Mike Chapman and Vice Chairwoman Janet Read, out of their posts.
The companion piece of legislation, House Bill 979, which redrew Cherokee County Board of Commissioner Posts, was not as controversial as the school maps. It passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor March 5.
While also still not confirmed, the commission post map is also expected to become official the first of the week prior to qualifying, Munda said.
Roach said the pre-clearance process typically takes 60 days, but he requested an expedited review. He said he was told Thursday that all pre-clearance for Cherokee County district maps was expected to be received Monday or Tuesday.
However, Roach warned school board members Thursday night that this may not be the case—they could qualify under their currently-held posts if the new maps are not approved, requalify once the new maps are approved, or have a judge rule should a lawsuit be filed.
“Hopefully it does not get to that,” he said, adding he would let everyone know as soon as he received the information from Munda.
“What happens after (Tuesday) is anybody’s guess. I imagine it will be decided in court,” Roach said.
Roach said the Department of Justice has around 2,700 new maps to approve. He also referenced an article in the Macon Telegraph, which reported Tuesday that the Bibb County school board attorneys told the county elections supervisor qualifying would be under current maps rather than those signed by the governor.
“There’s no way in that close period of time they could be cleared by the Justice Department,” Elaine Carr, Board of Elections supervisor in Bibb County, told the Telegraph.
Munda said officials with the Department of Justice are “looking to have all submissions (approved) by Monday.”
“We have to have preclearance before we can quality candidates under proposed maps,” she said. Munda said the department hasn’t indicated to her there were “any problems that could delay the ruling.”
“We are under a very tight deadline,” she said.