Rahul Garabadu, ACLU of Georgia Voting Rights Staff Attorney, to testify to support moving the Cooper Middle School polling location to Calvary Baptist Church, 4780 Ewing Rd., Austell, GA 30106
Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration Monthly Meeting
Monday, December 6, 2021
Commissioner’s Meeting Room
100 Cherokee St. NE
Marietta, GA 30060
According to the board’s website, “Beginning in April 2021, all meetings will be recorded and streamed LIVE whenever possible on CobbTV’s YouTube and Facebook channels.”
“We are encouraged by the Board’s decision to consider an alternative to the Cobb County Police Academy as a polling location. We urge the Board to vote in favor of this move to ensure that the county complies with the Voting Rights Act.,” said Rahul Garabadu, ACLU of Georgia’s Voting Rights Staff Attorney.
On September 13, 2021 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 the board’s September meeting, the board voted to officially reconsider the decision to move the polling location to the police academy. At the board’s October 11th meeting, the board delayed deciding whether to move the polling location out of the police academy.
“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 stated. 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. 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.