Cheers and hallelujahs were raised in Lithonia on Dec. 5 during the final city council meeting of the year. Residents were thrilled to receive word that Lithonia will not have to redo its recent special election.
“The Justice Department has precleared the election,” said Winston Denmark, Lithonia’s city attorney. “The letter came today.”
Lithonia held a special election on Nov. 8 to fill two vacant city council seats: one vacated by Deborah Jackson, who won the mayoral position; and Al Franklin, who fought unsuccessfully to keep his seat.
A requirement of the federal Voting Rights Act, elections in Georgia must be precleared by the federal Justice Department. As part of that preclearance, local governments must provide proof that the governing body officially voted to hold the election.
Since the Lithonia City Council did not adopt a resolution supporting the election, the Justice Department asked for proof of a vote or consensus.
Jackson said the city sent the Justice Department a copy of a newspaper advertisement for the election in The Champion and an affidavit from the newspaper as proof of the city’s intent to hold the election.
“That chapter is now closed,” Denmark said.