MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Federal Court Judge Hugh Lawson ordered the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections re-open qualifying for local school board races, after a lawsuit claimed it was unlawful to use outdated voting maps.
On July 9th, qualifying will re-open for any-one wishing to run for the Bibb County Board of Education. It will close on July 10th at 5pm.
None of the qualified candidates need to re-qualify except for one who will move into District 2. The shift in lines means a shift in strategy for candidate Dr. Thelma Dillard.
"I will move forward, I'm up for the challenge. I've always had opposition in every campaign I've run in before. I just didn't expect this," says Dillard.
Dillard qualified for the District 2 seat under the old maps. Judge Lawson's ruling pits candidate, Angel Davis-Hopper, against Dillard.
"I'm here to run for the Bibb County Board of Education. I'm not running for Tom Hudson or Thelma Dillard. I think the judge signing off on the new maps speaks volumes," says Davis-Hopper.
Lester Miller, one of the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit says Judge Lawson's decision was the right one for Bibb County.
"It's about one person, one vote. There's no sense to have 22,000 in one election district and 29,000 in the other and we both have one vote," says Miller.
For this race, ensuring equal representation for all voters comes at a cost.
"It's going to cost us almost $34,000 just to mail out new precinct ID cards," says Executive Director of the Board of Elections, Elaine Carr.
Also, the primary elections for the school board will be held on August 21st, the scheduled run-off date for the rest of the county-wide and state elections. Carr says there's no way to have predicted which maps were the right ones to use.
"Either way we would have went could have obviously resulted in a law-suit," says Carr.
While this game-change isn't ideal, Carr says it's in line with the law.
If more candidates qualify and one of the races goes into a run-off election, it will be held on September 18th. Carr says it could cost between $50,000 and $75,000.
The plantiffs are not sure if their attorney or filing costs will be reimbursed either. Miller says they paid thousands of dollars to make sure Bibb County voters were properly represented.