One of the most disruptive features of the 2014 election cycle was a result of a court ruling that in order to allow overseas soldiers enough time to vote in a runoff election, absentee ballots would need to be provided 45 days prior to election day. Following the judge’s ruling, the legislature passed House Bill 310, which moved the primary election to late May and the runoff election to late July. Had the general election for the Senate gone to a runoff, that would have been held in early January. But election dates were not the only things to change. Election qualifying was moved up to early March, and legislators sped through the 2014 session, even “meeting” when the Capitol was closed due to snow and ice, in order to be able to raise money and campaign as early as possible.
The state had appealed Judge Jones’s ruling to the 11th Circuit Court, which issued its ruling on Tuesday. From the summary:
The district court ruled that the 45-day transmittal requirement applies to runoff elections for federal office, and that the runoff election schemes in these two states violated UOCAVA. After the district court had issued its ruling and after the briefs in this appeal were filed, the Georgia Legislature passed H.B. 310, which in relevant part amends Georgia’s election calendar and voting procedures to comply with the 45-day transmittal requirement. In light of H.B. 310, the court dismissed Georgia’s appeal as moot.
Coincidentally, State Rep. Buzz Brockway filed House Resolution 399 a week ago, calling for the Speaker to appoint a five member committee to study alternatives to runoffs. Specifically, the resolution states,
WHEREAS, there have been many ideas proposed regarding alternatives to runoffs, such as plurality elections, “jungle” primaries, and instant run-off or preferential voting methods, and alternatives to long run-off periods, such as allowing military and overseas citizens to vote online or through other electronic means; and
WHEREAS, in light of the experiences from the 2014 election and the dissatisfaction expressed by many citizens regarding the process, alternatives to the current election schedule need to be studied to determine if modifications should be made to how Georgia conducts its elections.
A hearing on the resolution in the Elections Subcommittee of the Governmental Affairs Committee had been scheduled for this afternoon. Due to the weather, the meeting is going to be postponed. But because of the Appeals Court ruling, the need for the study committee just became more important.