Voting in the Nov. 8 election may have gotten even more confusing for some people who live in South Fulton. Residents in one neighborhood that was annexed into Atlanta have been told that they will still be Atlanta residents when early voting begins, but that their residency could change by election day.
In a Friday order, a Fulton County judge said that residents in Loch Lomond off Fairburn Road would stay in the city of Atlanta, despite a lawsuit that aims to overturn Atlanta’s annexation of the neighborhood.
Absentee ballots have already been sent and early voting begins Monday, but a hearing on the suit is scheduled for Oct. 25, and a decision on whether to overturn the annexation could be made before election day.
Residents in Atlanta and in unincorporated Fulton County will vote on different sets of ballot questions, including one in Fulton County that could create a City of South Fulton. If Atlanta’s annexation is overturned and the new city is formed, Loch Lomond residents could be part of a new city that they never had the chance to vote on.
“It will end up back in court as a case of true voter disenfranchisement,” said Dominique Huff, a Loch Lomond resident who would rather live in Atlanta than a new city.
Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of elections and registration, said voters are not disenfranchised as long as they get a chance to cast their ballot. If their residency changes days later, he said, their votes will still count.
But they will not be able to vote again if their residency changes and their ballot is already in.
“I don’t know if she would hold off on a decision until Nov. 9,” Barron said of Fulton County Chief Judge Gail Tusan, who is hearing the case. “I don’t know how that next order is going to look.”
Prior to the Friday decision, someone had floated a proposed order that would have let residents in the disputed area cast two ballots, then would have held their ballots until a final decision was made. Barron and the county election board questioned the legality of such a move.
In addition to the vote on the City of South Fulton, residents in the unincorporated area will decide on a proposed sales tax of three-quarters of a penny to fund transportation projects. Voters in Atlanta will vote on a half-penny sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA in the city, and a sales tax of four-tenths of a penny to fund other transportation projects.