Legislature in Limbo

Voters, candidates awaiting Governor's call for a special election

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The appointment of District 14 State Representative Christian Coomer to the Georgia Court of Appeals in September is already creating confusion among October's early voters.

The ballots have already been printed with instructions to select incumbent Coomer or a write-in candidate to be the District 14 representative, leaving voters wondering what to do.

"People think they should write-in the names of the candidates seeking the District 14 House seat," said Bartow Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk. "But that is not necessary."

Some of the candidates seeking to replace Coomer are crying foul too, saying that by waiting to resign his House seat, he is subjecting the county and the state to a special called election at significant extra expense to the county.

"Neither is true," Coomer said. "I have already submitted my resignation to the Governor so it's up to him as to when the election will be held. I resigned the same day I was appointed, but it wouldn't have mattered when I resigned, my name would still appear on the ballot."

Coomer was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to a seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals and in order for Deal to declare a special election to fill Coomer's vacant house seat, Coomer had to either resign or just let time pass until he could be sworn in. Coomer said he opted to resign.

Now it's up to Deal as to when the special election will be.

Georgia Code Section 21-2-541 stipulates that there be at least a 29 day period between the Governor's call for a special election and the actual election, unless the special election is scheduled in conjunction with a state-wide general election, such as a runoff. However, a same-day special election must be conducted separately from the state-wide general election or runoff using completely different ballots, voting equipment, facilities, poll workers and paperwork. 

With Coomer's resignation already in the Governor's hands, Nov. 5 would be the last day Deal could call for a special election in conjunction with the Dec. 4 runoff election, provided there is a runoff, according to Kirk.

Attempts were made to reach Deal for comment, but he was touring south Georgia for a first-hand look at the destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael. A spokesperson said the Governor's Office said Deal could possibly make a decision by the end of the week.