Long County election winners still waiting to take office - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Long Co. election winners still waiting to take office

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LUDOWICI, GA (WTOC) -

A room of future county commissioners and school board members hoped for answers from the county election board on when they will take office. But the board's chairwoman could not point to a date just yet.

Instead, Vanessa Cunningham attempted to explain why the county's elections had been so delayed. Candidates qualified last spring for July primaries and a November general election. One thing standing in the way was an update to county districts using 2010 census results. Each decade, local governments must adjust their districts based on population changes shown by the latest census.

Cunningham asserted local governments, for whatever reasons, had not updated their respective district boundaries in more than 25 years. She said this violated federal law, due to Department of Justice orders regarding Civil Rights lawsuits. The U.S. Department of Justice requires communities in Southern states to show they have maximized minority voting strength before finalizing any district maps. 

Cunningham said the drastic changes to update the maps caused the general election to be moved from November to March. A runoff in one race meant one last election on Tuesday.

Cunningham said that election's results are still pending the return of any military ballots from deployed residents in that district. However, those ballots are due by Friday afternoon.

Winners from the March elections asked Cunningham how soon they could take their oath and take office. Cunningham could not answer. She told WTOC after the hour-long meeting she is still waiting to hear a ruling from Georgia's Attorney General.

She said after the meeting the law states candidates take office in January after winning office. However, that traditionally covers November elections.

Several of those waiting to take office voiced their frustration at the wait after winning a March general election and remaining in limbo. They also asked how the delay would affect their term of office. Cunningham told WTOC that question remains unanswered.

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