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Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 8:00am

Some Local Elections In Limbo

Candidates for some local offices may not know what districts they’re running in this year. In Athens, for example, newly-drawn districts with 2010 census data are awaiting federal approval. But candidates can’t wait.

That's because people running for school board and county commission have to start filing paperwork May 23.

But the U.S. Department of Justice may not approve their election districts until May 29.

Under the Voting Rights Act, the federal government has to OK Georgia’s election maps.

Internal disagreements led Athens’ officials to submit maps late. Now they don’t know what they will do if they’re rejected.

Gail Schrader heads the county’s board of elections.

“That’s the $64,000 question!," she said in a telephone interview. "I would immediately start talking with the attorneys to see what path we would need to follow at that point. We’re taking it one day at a time right now.”

Schrader says her office is telling candidates to study both the old and new maps so they're prepared for either possibility. In some cases, candidates won't be able to run in a particular district or may choose not to.

Meanwhile, Augusta may have a longer wait because the area's state legislative delegation couldn’t agree on new maps at all. A lawsuit has been filed, and the courts may have to redraw district lines.

Augusta is also waiting for permission to hold a July vote for county commission elections.

Travis Stalls is with Richmond County’s board of elections.

“We have people who want to run for commission. We don’t have lines and we don’t even know when the election is going to be held. That’s where we stand right now,” he said. "It's been an interesting year."

Other areas are also facing map difficulties, including Cobb County in metro Atlanta.

State lawmakers redraw election districts once every ten years. The DOJ approved state and Congressional maps at the end of last year.