Cobb County is back on the Sunday wagon, at least until mid-August.
The county Board of Elections and Registration decided during a special meeting Friday morning not to fight a voter challenge to the referendum that approved Sunday package sales of alcohol in unincorporated parts of Cobb County.
That means Sunday sales will not start June 3 as now scheduled. It also means all citizens in Cobb County will likely have the chance to vote on Sunday sales again July 31, even though almost 70 percent of county voters already said yes March 6.
The problem is that residents of Cobb’s six cities were excluded from the countywide referendum despite paying taxes, electing officials and receiving services from the county and voting on other countywide issues, such as Cobb’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Other counties allowed city residents to vote on Sunday sales in unincorporated areas, including Cherokee County, which had its countywide referendum the same day as city alcohol votes in Canton, Holly Springs and Woodstock in November.
But County Attorney Dorothy Bishop advised Elections Director Janine Eveler to exclude city residents, The Marietta Daily Journal said, because they voted on municipal referendums on Sunday sales. Bishop reportedly saw the chance to vote on the same issue in two jurisdictions as violating the principle of one person, one vote.
Facing a challenge filed by Marietta lawyer Justin O’Dell, the elections board is acknowledging that is not a winning argument.
The board’s attorney will draft a consent agreement with O’Dell that requires the county to vote again, this time with the cities, Eveler said.
A Superior Court judge still has to hear the challenge and accept the consent agreement to schedule the revote. Eveler said she doesn’t know who the judge will be or when the hearing will occur.
If the hearing happens soon enough, the county will include the referendum on the July 31 primary ballot, which now includes state and county candidates and the regional transportation SPLOST proposal. Running the revote on an existing election day means no added expense for a special election.
July 2 is the deadline to register to vote in that election.
After the county Sunday sales measure passed, 54,359 to 23,553, and after all six cities approved their own Sunday sales referendums Nov. 8 or March 6, the outcome of the revote is expected to be the same: an OK for Sunday liquor sales.
Experience in Cherokee County and Cartersville indicates that liquor stores won't see much change in overall sales. And O'Dell has said his challenge isn't about changing the result but about protecting voting rights.
The elections board will meet Aug. 6 to certify the July 31 results, and if the measure passes and is certified, county spokesman Robert Quigley said, stores will be able to pick up licenses for Sunday sales Aug. 7 and open for business Aug. 12.
Keep up with the news you care about by subscribing to Northeast Cobb Patch's free email newsletter, liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.