Letter to Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration Urging Reversing Its Decision to Use the Police Academy as a Polling Place

Today, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration urging it to reverse its decision to move a polling location from Cooper Middle School to the Cobb County Police Academy effective January 1, 2022. At a meeting at 3pm on Monday, September 13, 2021, the board will discuss its decision.

“Using a police academy as a polling place in a majority-Black neighbor-hood will likely deter voters from exercising their right to vote [and] may violate federal law,” the ACLU of Georgia letter states. According to September 2021 voter registration data from Cobb County, the precinct serves a community that is majority-Black. In this country’s not-so-distant past, Black people have been harassed, arrested, and even beaten for trying to exercise their right to vote, often at the hands of law enforcement.

Furthermore, the issue of police brutality against Black people has recently been the subject of protests across the nation following the murder of George Floyd. While most law enforcement officers carry out their duties in a non-discriminatory manner, the fact remains that many Black voters have understandable concerns about interactions with law enforcement.

Forcing Black voters to cast their ballots at a police academy would willfully ignore this painful historical context. Black citizens have been murdered by factions who refused to let them vote. In January 2019, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, “In late July 1946, the lynching of five African-Americans in Georgia made national headlines …. The first killing was of Maceo Snipes, an African-American World War II veteran. Snipes was killed in Taylor County, in retaliation for daring to vote in a statewide primary election. For that, four white men shot him outside a relative’s home.”

“Voter intimidation is illegal under federal law,” stated Rahul Garabadu, ACLU of Georgia Voting Rights Attorney. “Using the police academy as a polling place may violate the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any attempt to ‘intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person from voting or attempting to vote.’”