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State Supreme Court defers on counties drawing their own election districts

Final approval of local elections districts, like those on the Athens-Clarke County Commission and the Clarke County Board of Education remains in the hands of state legislators, at least for now.

The Georgia Supreme Court last week declined to rule on whether counties could draw their own local districts. The court said that the plaintiffs in the case were not qualified to bring the case. That leaves open the question of whether counties can draw their own districts without approval from state lawmakers.

While the case in front of the state Supreme Court originated in Cobb County, the larger issue of having a Republican-dominated state legislature approving local voting districts in Democratic-leaning counties was a vexing one in many parts of the state, including in Athens-Clarke County. Following the most recent round of redistricting, three sitting commissioners, widely seen as being among the most left-leaning voices on the commission, were drawn out of their districts. Similar controversial redistricting moves happened in Fulton, Gwinnett, and Augusta-Richmond Counties.

Supreme Court justices admitted that the issue needs to be clarified. A second lawsuit from Cobb County challenging the issue is also in progress.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.