Feds want more election information

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Federal officials in charge of approving a change to the date of Birmingham city elections have contacted city officials for more information.

FOX6 News learned Tuesday the Department of Justice called Birmingham city attorney Lawrence Cooper on Tuesday morning to ask questions about why the city wants to change its election timeline.

"They had a couple of questions about how we had determined which date to move to," Cooper said. "I explained to them that what we are doing, we're moving our date back to comply with the date used by all the other
municipalities in the state," Cooper said.

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford told the city council months ago the city must move its elections up to August to allow enough time for absentee ballots to come in and be counted in case there is a need for a runoff.

"If we didn't, the way it stands now if there was a requirement for a runoff, it would actually occur
at the same time the councilors are supposed to be taking office," Cooper said.

The city cannot do anything until it gets clearance from the Department of Justice. Federal officials have until Saturday to make their decision. Cooper said he was encouraged by Tuesday's call and hopes to have an answer by the weekend.

If the city plans are approved, elections would be held August 25.

Howard Bayless is running as a challenger. "We have timelines where we try to strategize what our map campaign is gonna be, what our phone campaign is gonna be, our door-knocking, and not knowing the actual date of the election makes it difficult to strategize," Bayless said.

"I just think if you're gonna run, run," Cooper said. "If they've got some new challengers out there and they feel like they need to become more recognizable and better name recognition, then I would encourage them to do so, because as we're moving right now, our plan is for the August election to take place."