Judge draws final Cobb voting map

Cobb County can likely move forward with its July elections under a new district map drawn this week by a U.S. district court judge, barring an appeal to the judge's order.

The map, drawn and ordered enacted by Judge Steve Jones, prevents the county from having to hold a costly special election.

Cobb's redistricting process went awry during the last legislative session when the General Assembly, which is charged with adopting reapportionment maps, could not agree on a new map that adequately represented the population changes in the most recent census. In turn, Cobb was sued last month by Marietta attorney Jonathan Crumly, who charged that the county’s existing district maps did not take the census changes into account and violated the one person-one vote principle.

The contested map issue directly impacted the upcoming July district elections for commissioners in districts 2 and 4 in southeast and southwest Cobb.

To keep the elections on track, Jones curtailed what can be a months-long legal process and drew the map with the help of the state’s redistricting office. By drawing the districts himself, the map can be immediately used by the county’s board of elections without awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“I’m sorry we had to go through this process,” said Cobb Chairman Tim Lee. “Nevertheless, I was grateful that the judge took the time and energy to get the map redrawn in time for us to hold July elections.”

Jones did follow a commission recommendation to keep the areas of Kennesaw State University, McCollum Airport and the Town Center Area Community Improvement District together and represented by northwest area Commissioner Helen Goreham. Jones’ early draft version had moved much of the area into the northeast district.

Crumly was pleased with Jones’ version of the new districts and does not intend to appeal the judgment.

“It’s a good constitutional map and my goal was to get a constitutional map out of this,” he said Thursday. “We’re done. Voters can go to the regular election in July.”

Attorney Jeff Jeter, who filed an intervening suit in the issue on behalf of another Cobb resident, had not yet determined Thursday whether he would appeal Jones' order.