MILLER et al v. BIBB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT et al
ORDER granting 3 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Ordered by Judge Hugh Lawson on June 29, 2012. (mbh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
LESTER MILLER, GARY
BECHTEL, and BRENDA SUTTON,
THE BIBB COUNTY SCHOOL
COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS
AND VOTER REGISTRATION; and
ELAINE CARR, in her official
capacity as Executive Director of the
Bibb County Board of Elections and
CIVIL ACTION FILE
The complaint in this action was filed on June 26, 2012. Plaintiffs allege
that the districts for Bibb County School Board elections presently being used by
Defendants became unconstitutionally malapportioned in light of the 2010 census.
Those previous districts were superseded by legislation enacted at the 2012 session
of the Georgia General Assembly, H.B. 963, but Defendants have been utilizing
the old districts in connection with the current election and candidate qualifying.
At the court’s direction, the parties entered into stipulations regarding the
essential facts at issue, and those stipulated facts are incorporated into this order.
Together with their complaint, Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking injunctive and
other relief regarding the conduct of elections for the School Board. Among other
things, Plaintiffs seek an immediate order enjoining Defendants from any further
use of the old districts for Bibb County School Board elections, and requiring that
Defendants take such actions as are necessary to ensure that elections be conducted
pursuant to the districts established by H.B. 963, including candidate re-qualifying
Elections for the Board of Education (BOE) use six voting districts which
divide Bibb County into six geographic districts that, together, comprise the entire
County. Two additional members are elected at-large by all the County’s voters.
The general primary election for the Board of Education is scheduled for July 31,
2012, with the last date for registration being July 2, 2012. Advance voting is to
start July 9 and end on July 27. One day Saturday voting is scheduled to occur on
July 21, 2012. A runoff primary election date is set for August 21, 2012, if
necessary, for any federal, state or local offices.
Candidate qualification occurred for six of the eight BOE seats on May 2325, 2012. For the purposes of such candidate qualifying, Defendants used the
geographic boundaries of the voting districts that were in place prior to the 2012
session of the General Assembly.
There have been material population shifts over the past decade within the
six BOE districts, as evidenced by the 2010 census. The total population for the
six pre-2012 School Board districts are as follows, according to the 2010 census:
The total population of Bibb County is 155,547, making the ideal population
for any one of the six district’s 25,924 – i.e., one-sixth of the total County
population. The deviations set forth above for the six old districts reflect the
percentage deviation from the ideal for each district. The total deviation – i.e., the
total range from the largest to smallest district – is 27.28%.
The shifts in populations following the 2010 census required redistricting of
the BOE districts so that they would comply with the one-person/one-vote
requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment. The School District sought to
redistrict the BOE Districts during the 2012 session of the General Assembly. As a
result, the six BOE districts were reapportioned by enactment of H.B. 963 at the
2012 session of the General Assembly. The School District sought preclearance of
H.B. 963 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c, and it was
precleared by the DOJ on June 12, 2012.
It is apparent from the undisputed facts that Plaintiffs are entitled to the
relief they seek. The districts at issue are substantially malapportioned with a total
deviation of 27.28%, which is greater than the 10% maximum deviation generally
considered to be the upper limit imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment for state
and local redistricting. See, e.g., Voinovich v. Quilter, 506 U.S. 146, 161 (1993);
Brown v. Thomson, 462 U.S. 835, 842 (1983); Larios v. Cox, 300 F.Supp.2d 1320
(N.D.Ga), aff’d, 542 U.S. 947 (2004).
The defendant election officials have represented to the court that they will
need some time in order to reconfigure voting lists and perform other
administrative tasks to ensure that voters for School Board elections are correctly
placed in the new districts. The Board of Elections customarily utilizes the
services of the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University to
construct the databases it uses in the election process based on applicable district
lines, and the Board of Elections intends to utilize the Center’s services to comply
with this court’s order. The Board of Elections has been advised by personnel at
the Center that the election databases can be constructed if the primary election
now scheduled for the Board of Education on July 31, 2012 is delayed a relatively
brief time. Specifically, the Center has committed to constructing and delivering
the necessary election databases by August 9, 2012. The court concludes that the
most practicable and least disruptive remedy for the claims asserted by Plaintiffs is
to require that the general primary election for School Board be conducted on
August 21, 2012, the date now set for primary run-off elections.
In the event a run-off primary election is required for School Board, which
does not now appear to be likely, such run-off primary election will be conducted
in such district(s) on September 18, 2012, that being the date now set for a special
election under Georgia law should one occur.
A total of 10 persons qualified to run in either the Democratic or Republican
primary for the six Board of Education districts using the old districts. Based on
the stipulated facts, it appears that only one of the persons who qualified for either
the Democratic or Republican primary for a Bibb County Board of Education seat
will have her district changed under the new district lines enacted by H.B. 963.
While qualifying will need to be reopened briefly to allow other persons who
might wish to run under the district lines established by H.B. 963, the current list
of candidates indicates that there will likely be no primary run-off election for any
of the School Board seats because there is no district primary election in which
there are, presently, more than two candidates.
All candidates who have qualified for election to a seat on the Bibb County
School Board whose district number does not change as a result of switching to the
H.B. 963 lines, shall be considered to be duly qualified in the district so modified
by H.B. 963, to the extent that their qualification otherwise complies with the
requirements of Georgia law. The one candidate whose district changes by virtue
of the changes caused by H.B. 963, Ms. Angel Davis-Hopper, will be required to
requalify for District 2, in which she will now reside. If Ms. Davis-Hopper
chooses to requalify, she will not be required to pay an additional qualifying fee.
Two days of supplemental qualifying will be conducted by the Elections
Board beginning Monday July 9, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. and ending Tuesday July 10,
2012 at 5:00 p.m.
This court will retain jurisdiction of this matter to enter such other and
further relief as may become necessary and appropriate in connection with the
conduct of the School Board elections that are affected by the court’s order. The
parties are directed to confer and, to the extent necessary, promptly present to the
court a proposed order that will address such administrative matters as may be
affected by the changing of the date of the primary election for Bibb County
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Defendants are
hereby enjoined from using the pre-H.B. 963 election districts for School Board in
connection with the 2012 primary or general elections, and Defendants and all
persons in active concert with them are hereby ORDERED to take all steps that
may be necessary to ensure that the terms of this order are fully carried out; and it
ORDERED that voter registration shall end as currently scheduled on July 2,
2012, for the rescheduled primary election, and any run-off primary, required by
this order; and it is further
ORDERED that those persons who vote in a partisan primary on July 31,
2012 shall be permitted to vote only in the same rescheduled partisan primary for
School Board elections held pursuant to the court’s order; and it is further
ORDERED that any person who has qualified as a candidate for a seat on
the School Board may withdraw his or her candidacy by giving written notice to
that effect to Defendant Carr and to the appropriate political party officials, on or
before Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:00 noon, and such person(s) shall be entitled to
a refund of their qualifying fee; and it is further
ORDERED that Defendants shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the
terms of this order, including in particular the supplemental qualifying period, are
given extensive coverage in the media in Bibb County. The Defendants shall
further post a copy of this order on their website and post it physically in their
main offices and any satellite offices they maintain in Bibb County. Defendants
shall also notify those persons who have qualified as candidates for the Bibb
County Board of Education of this order and provide them with a copy of the order
by email or regular mail. In addition, Defendants shall immediately advise Ms.
Davis-Hopper of this order by telephone.
SO ORDERED this 29th day of June, 2012.
/s/ Hugh Lawson
HONORABLE HUGH LAWSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
PRESENTED ON BEHALF OF PLAINTIFFS:
David F. Walbert
Georgia Bar No. 730450
[signatures continue on following page]
/S/ A. Lee Parks
A. Lee Parks
Georgia Bar No. 563750
PARKS, CHESIN & WALBERT, P.C.
75 Fourteenth Street, 26th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 873-8000 Telephone
(404) 873-8050 Facsimile
/S/ Charles E. Cox, Jr.
Charles E. Cox, Jr.
Georgia Bar No. 192305
CHARLES E. COX, JR.
3464 Vineville Avenue
Macon, GA 31204
(478) 757-2990 Telephone
(478) 757-2991 Facsimile
Counsel for Plaintiffs
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/S/ with permission by dfw
Virgil L. Adams
Georgia Bar No. 004625
/S/ with permission by dfw
D. James Jordan
Georgia Bar No. 404465
ADAMS & JORDAN, P.C.
P. O. Box 928
Macon, GA 31201-0928
Counsel for the Macon-Bibb County
Board of Elections and Elaine Carr
/S/ with permission by dfw
Georgia Bar No. 509888
HALL, BOOTH, SMITH & SLOVER, P.C.
2417 Westgate Drive
Albany, GA 31708
Attorney for The Bibb County
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