Federal court holds hearing on Georgia Public Service Commission elections

Georgia's five elected public service commissioners regulate Georgia Power, including construction of Plant Vogtle.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

A federal appeals court heard arguments Thursday over whether Georgia’s method for electing members of the Public Service Commission violates parts of the Voting Rights Act.

A group of four Black plaintiffs sued Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2020, claiming Georgia’s structure of statewide elections for the commission dilutes the power of Black voters.

WABE politics reporter Rahul Bali spoke with “All Things Considered” about the decision now pending with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“With every Georgian voting on these districts it took out the possibility of a minority or a Black representative to be on the public service commission, Bali said in explaining the plaintiff’s concerns.

According to Bali, the judges could make the state of Georgia restructure the PSC districts and elections, or they might decide there is no violation of the Voting Rights Act.

If there’s no violation, the court will have to decide what to do about two elections for PSC positions that were postponed in November.

At the request of both sides, the judges have agreed to rule quickly, in case state lawmakers have to come up with a new way to pick Public Service Commission members during the upcoming legislative session.