ATLANTA – The ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration demanding it reject the proposal to close seven out of nine – more than 75% – polling places on the eve of the November elections in a county that is predominantly African American. The Randolph County proposal is discriminatory, unjustifiable, and violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“This proposal is reminiscent of Georgia’s ugly, discriminatory past, and that is where it needs to stay,” stated Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We will fight to protect every Georgian’s right to exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote in every election.”
According to the ACLU of Georgia’s letter, “[c]losing these polling places will virtually guarantee lower voter turnout in a Black Belt county that is predominantly African-American (60%), and will completely prevent rural voters without transportation (again, disproportionately African-American) from voting in-person on Election Day.”
“Making it disproportionately harder for African American voters to cast a ballot—especially when done so deliberately—violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “To avoid continuing legal exposure, the board must reject the proposal to shut down 75% of the polling locations in Randolph County.”
The timing of the county’s proposal is equally suspicious and calls to question the board’s true motives behind this proposal. With higher voter participation expected in the November election, closing 75% of the county’s polling places makes no sense particularly given the fact that these are the exact same polling places used in the primary in May and primary run-off last month.