An Election Full of Sound and Fury…

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

Yesterday, the Democratic Primary runoff for the Cobb County Commission District 2 chose former Cobb School Board member Jaha Howard as the nominee for the hard Democratic District that is currently held by Democrat Jerica Richardson. Richardson, who was drawn out of her district by the Georgia General Assembly (State Map) and redrawn back into her district by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners (County Map) did not run for re-election, deciding to run against Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-6), who won her primary against Richardson and other challengers without a runoff.

Howard, who has made a name for himself by making various demonstrations while on the School Board, including kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance and running for a new office every couple of years (so far: State Senate (2x), Cobb School Board (1 term), State School Superintendent, and now Cobb County Commissioner) lives in District 2 regardless of which map you use, and will face Republican Pamela Reardon in the fall, but the question is will that even matter if the County Map is eventually struck down by the Georgia Courts, especially since Reardon, unlike Howard, does not live in the District according to the State Map, only the County Map?

Currently, legal observers are uncertain of the possible consequences should the County Map be declared “unconstitutional” as a power reserved solely for the Georgia General Assembly. In a challenge to the County Map brought by the Catherine and David Floam, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Cobb County’s favor deciding the Floams did not have standing to receive the relief sought, a technicality, but Justice Charlie Bethel issued a stern warning to the County that “CALAMITOUS CONSEQUENCES” could be in the County’s future if the legality of the maps were not decided quickly.

Attorney Jake Evans recently told the AJC, “If they flip the districts and the other district was the right district, and this was the wrong district, I mean, you’re gonna have pervasive amounts of people who are not eligible voting, or people who are eligible not allowed to vote. And I have to think the number would be much larger than the margin of victory.”

Courts are typically reluctant to order new elections, but most cases where new elections are contemplated involve districts drawn by the legitimate authorities, but in violation of equal protection guidelines due to Gerrymandering. There is no precedent for an election in a district where one governmental authority used a new and novel legal theory to usurp the power from another governmental authority that has historically had the power to conduct redistricting.

Tomorrow, Alicia Adams and her attorneys will be back in Cobb County Superior Court Judge Kellie Hill’s courtroom on the case that could eventually invalidate the County Map. Adams, who lives in the State Map but not the County Map, was disqualified from the District 2 race by the Cobb County Board of Elections over her lack of residency according to the County Map. Adam’s court challenge was just beginning when the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Floams.

Adams’s attorney, Chuck Boring, said in the court filing, “Defendants are improperly conducting the elections for Cobb County Board of Commissioners, Posts 2 and 4 by refusing to use the General Assembly map and district boundaries.”

Even though Jaha Howard lives in the District regardless of the map used, the primary and runoff elections for the District may be like that tale Macbeth said was, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” as Cobb voters face the prospect of that election being voided by the courts and a complete re-do based on the voter base and the chilling effect of potential candidates dissuaded from running based on the lines in the County Map. Needless to say, it will be Cobb taxpayers who will lose out in the end covering the costs of both the litigation and the necessity of holding multiple and unnecessary elections.

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