The Bibb County Board of Elections officially canceled the July 16 election for the new consolidated Macon-Bibb County government at their meeting Friday morning, and scheduled nothing in its place.
The public portion of their meeting lasted precisely 58 seconds, as there just wasn’t much to discuss.
On Tuesday county officials received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice demanding more information and more time before the federal authorities clear Macon-Bibb’s move toward a summertime nonpartisan election. Local Democrats have complained the move will disenfranchise minority voters.
The odds of getting that resolved quickly are just too slim to proceed with a July election or any other election at this time, said election board member Lonnie Miley on Friday.
"This was the only thing we could do," Miley said. "We would be doing a disservice to the public to set any dates, or any times, or anything like that, because we just don’t know. So we really just have to wait."
With the cancellation, qualification for the city-county mayor and commission races will have to start over again, though candidates won’t have to repay their qualification fee, said election board vice chair Stephen Allen.
"However, [candidates] will still have to come in and fill out the paperwork to qualify again," Allen added, "but at that time also, it is open to anyone else to qualify." Candidates who don't wish to re-qualify can get a refund, he said.
This means new candidates can try to get on the ballot. Two of the commission races have been uncontested up until this point.
However, the elections board took no action toward setting a future election date, saying they have to wait and see what the Justice Department does next.
Voter applications for absentee ballots that are already in will still be honored at some point in the future, board members agreed.
They will try to meet again within a day of any decision from the DOJ, Allen said.