New election date may cause low turnout - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New election date may cause low turnout

December 26, 2003

Albany -- A federal judge ruled February 10th will be the day that citizens in Albany will cast their votes for a mayor and city commissioners. The city's elections usually held in November were delayed because of a lawsuit by local voters. Now with a new plan moving in place those involved in the case are all reacting.

"It's a terrible, terrible Christmas present for the people of Albany,"says William Wright. Wright is the original plaintiff in the case against the city's election plan. He says he is not satisfied that a federal court's didn't adopt the plan he proposed. He also disagrees with the new date set for city election."With an isolated case like this one we are going have a very low turnout and the disenfranchised and other people are not really going be so enthused so that they want to come out. Many involved in the case hoped federal judge, Louis Sands, would set the new election date on same day of the March presidential primary . But the judge's order called for swift action.

In his order it stated "The right of its' citizen to vote is an indispensable component of our constitution and representative form of government. While it might be more convenient less troublesome and less expensive to hold the elections then, the citizens' right to vote neither rest on nor is subordinate to such conveniences."

Sands' decision goes on to place blame with the city commissioners and other political groups for allowing the original delays.

But the real question is how the irregular date will effect voter turn out. Traditionally larger numbers of minorities voters, vote during presidential elections. But mayoral candidate, Dr.Willie Adams who has strong minority support says he doesn't believe the new date will stop his supporters from voting. "I believe the electors in this city believe that this race is important enough to come to the polls,"says Adams..

No one has seen the final map adopted for the city that will be used for next ten years. The voting commission told the court it would prepared when the election date was set. And when those ballots are cast next year they will help make decisions long overdue. William Wright's original complaint was that he believed the city's district lines diluted black voting strength. He says after a review of the new map lines he may or may not file a motion to appeal the federal decision.

posted at 4:50PM by scott.hunter@walb.com

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