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Voting rights decision may curb push to diversify Georgia, Alabama utility commissions


Brionte´ McCorkle speaks out against a proposed rate hike from Georgia Power in September 2019. (Neil Sardana)


By Kristi Swartz for Georgia Recorder


Brionte´ McCorkle was “furious” when a federal appeals court ruled in late November that Georgia could keep its current method of electing its powerful utility regulators. She punched her kickboxing heavy bag so hard that it broke.


“I busted the bag, I was that mad,” she said.


But, McCorkle added, “We’re not going to let this go.”


McCorkle and three other Black voters from Fulton County have filed a motion to stay the appellate court’s ruling. Filed Dec. 7, the motion asks the appeals court to halt the effects of its own decision while the plaintiffs “ask the Supreme Court to clarify the important issues in this case.”


“Absent a stay, Georgia will proceed to conduct Public Service Commission elections using a statewide, at-large method that a federal court — following a week-long trial featuring more than a dozen witnesses — has found unlawfully dilutes the voting strength of millions of Black citizens,” the motion argues.


The appeals court’s earlier decision, which is binding in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, could block a likely voting rights challenge to the way Alabama chooses its historically white utility commissioners as well. 


“Everything about this case is precedent setting,” McCorkle said.



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