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‘Qualifying in Chaos’ as Cobb turns away candidates due to use of the ‘invalid’ Home Rule Map


As qualifying for office in Cobb County kicked off on Monday, some candidates were turned away. They were forbidden from qualifying due to the Cobb County Elections Board’s decision to use a map for commission seats that was ruled invalid in January 2024.

On day one, the qualifying process for elected office was marked by chaos and disputes as some candidates were blocked from qualifying while elected officials threatened an injunction. The use of a disputed Home Rule map by the Cobb County Elections Board to qualify candidates is at the root of the controversy. The map, ruled invalid by a Cobb County Superior Court Judge, has caused confusion and challenges for candidates seeking to qualify. It will continue to block anyone wanting to rightfully run for office based on the approved map that was signed into law.

The ongoing disagreement stems from the court’s ruling that the county commission’s decision to replace the state map with their Home Rule map – proposed by the commission’s three Democrats – was unconstitutional. Instead of accepting the ruling by the court, Cobb Chair Lisa Cupid sought an appeal, which has led to anarchy.

Former Marietta City Councilman Reggie Copeland’s attempt to qualify for the Commission 2 race was blocked based on Cupid’s Home Rule map being used by the Elections Board to qualify candidates. Upon exanimation, Copeland legally resides within District 2, according to the map passed in 2022 by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. He does not reside in Cupid’s Home Rule map. Unless the Board acts expeditiously to govern under the approved map, Copeland and others in a similar situation could see their chances of running for office permanently blocked.

Adding to the ongoing history of litigation in Cobb County, State Senator Ed Setzler has sent a letter threatened the Elections Board with a lawsuit and urging them to use the state’s map for qualifying. Potential legal action Seltzer seeks includes injunctive relief and mandamus action, as he highlights the risk of irreparable harm to candidates. Seltzer’s letter has been received by the Elections board but there is no indication that they are taking his threats seriously or changing their position of denying candidates that do not reside within Cupid’s Home Rule map. Despite the warning, the Elections Board is continuing with the contested Home Rule map to qualify candidates.

The chaotic qualifying process and disputes raise concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and the impact on candidates seeking various offices in Cobb County. As for Copeland and others, they are exploring all of their legal options as the last day to qualify is Friday at noon.

The history of litigation in Cobb County highlights the persistent challenges faced by the community in ensuring fair and lawful elections. This is further complicated as many citizens do not know which district they reside in.

The current situation has prompted concerns from various quarters, including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In a statement, he criticized the Cobb County Commission’s decision to proceed with commission-drawn maps, stating that it jeopardizes candidate qualifying and puts Cobb County voters at risk for disenfranchisement. He emphasized that the court has already ruled in favor of using the maps enacted by the General Assembly and expressed worry about the added confusion, likely errors, and unnecessary burdens on election officials at the last minute.

It is unclear to many why Cupid would throw Cobb’s election process into chaos with her insistence on using her Home Rule map in light of Commissioner Jerica Richardson’s decision to leave her District 2 seat to run for Congress.

As early voting for the March 12 Georgia presidential primary concludes this week, the ongoing disputes and uncertainties surrounding the qualifying process for primary races creates a layer of complexity for both candidates and voters. 

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