Oconee County and Clarke County voters on Monday lost the chance to select a new district attorney in November for the Western Judicial Circuit of the Superior Court.
Gov. Brian Kemp failed to appoint on Monday a district attorney to serve until a special election could be held on Nov. 3, meaning that no special election will be held.
Jennifer Stone, assistant director for the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration, said on Monday that the county has issued 5,831 mail-in ballots for the June 9 primary, which would have included the district attorney race had Ken Mauldin not retired at the end of February.
Stone said that the county has mailed out 2,269 Democratic ballots, 3,359 Republican ballots, and 203 NonPartisan ballots.
The county has approximately 2,000 ballots yet to issue, Stone said.
Mauldin originally said he would fill out his term, ending in December, but his retirement put the election in Kemp’s hands, and Kemp needed to act by May 3–or May 4, if May 3 was treated as a holiday–to allow for the special election on Nov. 3.
Deborah Gonzalez said in an email message on Sunday night that attorneys had advised her that Kemp still could act on Monday to allow for the special election.
The press office for the governor, which announces appointments, did not announce any appointment by Kemp by the end of the day on Monday.
Gonzalez and Brian Patterson, now serving as acting district attorney, had both announced they would run as Democrats in the primary then scheduled for May 19 and had been campaigning for months. No one had announced as a Republican.
Mauldin is a Democrat and had served as district attorney since 2001.
Had Kemp appointed a Republican to serve as district attorney until the special election, that person would have had to compete against Gonzalez and Patterson and possibly others in a non-primaried election on Nov. 3.
Now Kemp can appoint someone who will have more than two years to gain recognition and then seek election in 2022.
Gonzalez, in a Facebook post on Monday, said “Kemp stole YOUR election. It was your choice-- it says so in the GA Constitution--that DAs are to be elected. He stole it anyway.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced in April that his office would send out applications to all active voters in Georgia inviting them to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot.
Since the June 9 election is a primary, voters have to select a Democratic Ballot, a Republican Ballot, or a NonPartisan Ballot. Those who select the party ballots will get the NonPartisan ballot, which is for judicial races, as part of their ballots.
Stone told me in an email message on Monday morning that the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration already has received back 91 Democratic Ballots, 173 Republican Ballots, and 31 Non-Partisan Ballots.
She said she was making a rough estimate of how many ballot requests still needed to be processed.
“It’s quite the process,” she said, “(verifying signatures and pertinent info, marking on the application, sorting by ballot type, then entering into the state system to be issued), so it can take some time.”
On March 1, the county had 28,777 active registered voters.