That may very well be the answer the city of Birmingham receives from the Justice Department, which will throw a giant wrench into the works for this summer’s elections. Or this fall’s elections. Who knows?
The City Council three months ago voted to ask the Department of Justice for permission to move up the election dates to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act. However, a request was not sent to Washington until May 7.
Nothing like a little procrastination…
City Clerk Paula Smith recently sent a memo to the council listing two election schedules – one if the Justice Department approves the new dates and another if approval is not granted.
Smith referred questions to City Attorney Lawrence Cooper, who declined to explain why his office waited to make the official request.
“My only response is that we have not received any response from Justice at this time,” Cooper said Wednesday.
Gee, I can’t imagine why they haven’t received a response to a request that they didn’t even mail till two weeks ago. The Justice Department has 60 days to respond. Let’s hope Mr. Cooper gets really lucky; otherwise, it could easily be mid-July before the city has a firm election date.
The request also include changing polling places to those used in statewide elections, a proposal that makes a great deal of sense and cuts down on the number of confused voters turning up at their usual location only to be told they’re in the wrong place. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it means more to review than a simple date change. All the more reason for early submission.
Valerie Abbott cuts to the chase:
“For them having fooled around at least two months – all this time everyone on the council was assuming we were waiting for the Justice Department and we’d be hearing from them any day now,” said Councilwoman Valerie Abbott. “It all seems pretty inept to me. But who am I? I’m just a member of the council who doesn’t know when her election date will be.”