The Dawsonville City Council has voted unanimously to change its election date from Sept. 18 to Nov. 6, when voters will decide who fills two council seats.
The move is in response to a revision in Senate Bill 92 (SB 92), which now forbids elections from being held on the third Tuesday in September.
In a detailed explanation to city council members about SB 92 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, attorney Kevin Tallant of Miles, Patterson, Hansford and Tallant, pointed out that Georgia is one of nine states with a history of discrimination and is required to submit all new voting procedures to the Federal Department of Justice for pre-clearance prior to implementation.
According to Tallant, the state has submitted for pre-clearance, but the Department of Justice has not yet approved.
The city council, however, has voted to move forward immediately with the change.
Were doing it anyway because a lawsuit from the Department of Justice is unlikely, said Tallant.
In Tallants slide presentation, he noted that the city discovered the dilemma and was proactive. Council member Chris Gaines thought Tallants presentation was informative.
Its obvious what the law says and its no big deal, he said. Were just following the law.
Council member Jason Power agrees. I thought Kevin did a great presentation on the reason why the election needed to be changed, Power said. Im very comfortable with the decision we made.
Angie Smith, one of two temporary council members, said the change was unexpected. I didnt know about it until Friday, she said. But, I thought about it, and Im fine with it.
Smith and Caleb Phillips are serving temporarily on the city council until the Nov. 6 election. They are filling seats vacated by James Grogan and Calvin Byrd who were required by Georgia law to resign their seats in order to run for Mayor of Dawsonville. Both originally thought their duties would be over in September. Im excited to be here and help the city out until the elections, said Phillips. Im happy to do it as long as I need to. Anyone who is a resident of the city of Dawsonville for at least one year, and is 18-years-old and older, may qualify to run for a city council seat.