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Panel of judges to hear redistricting case today
Long County
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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia today will hear the case of the Long County Board of Education and the Long County Board of Commissioners versus the Long County Board of Election over redistricting.

The three-judge panel possibly will render a decision on the U.S. Justice Department’s recent ruling rejecting the county’s proposed redistricting plan. According to Civil Action CV 212-152, the commission and board of education are seeking an injunction prohibiting the use of the 1988 or 2012 district maps. The action also asks the court offer assistance in drawing remedial or corrective maps.

The case was scheduled to be heard at 1 p.m. in Brunswick.

“On behalf of the school system and the board of education, we’re hoping that the three-judge panel can offer us a solution on what we need to do,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said. “We will support their decision 100 percent and do all we can to get this matter resolved and behind us.”

The suit against the election board was filed after the civil-rights division of the U.S. Justice Department ruled on Aug. 27 that the proposed district maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the proposed maps failed to show that they wouldn’t have a discriminatory effect on the county. Perez also stated that the maps would reduce the percentage of African-American voting-age adults by 6.7 percent, changing it from 47.2 percent to 40.5 percent, which would then make it more difficult for the group to elect a candidate of its choice.

With the rejection, the county’s recent district races have come into question and, according to attorneys for the board of education and the commission, probably will make the results of the election “null and void as they currently apply.”

Commission Chairman Bobby Walker said the commission had to file the suit against the election board, and he hopes the panel can give the bodies some guidance toward a resolution.

“We filed a request by the Justice Department asking them to review their decision, but we also had to file this suit against the election board to help relieve the liability against the county. Hopefully on Friday, the court can help us solve this,” Walker said.

Election board Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham also said she hopes the court can help solve the problem.

“Like the other two boards, we are hoping that the court can provide everyone with some instructions on how we take care of this,” she said.

The three judges who will hear the case are appellate Judge Beverly B. Martin, district Judge J. Randal Hall and Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the U.S. Southern District.

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