ATLANTA – The ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Quitman County Board of Registrars warning that its proposal to close half of its polling places will likely harm Black voters potentially violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Eliminating one out of the two polling places in a majority-Black county is discriminatory and unjustifiable. Morris precinct, the polling location that the Board is considering shutting down, serves an electorate that was 38.5% Black as of the November 3, 2020 election. This is higher than the proportion of Black voters in the state of Georgia (30.0%) for the same election. Closing Morris precinct would therefore have a disproportionate impact on Black voters.
In addition, eliminating a polling location that serves the eastern half of the county will prevent rural voters living around Morris without transportation from voting in-person on Election Day. Morris is approximately 13 miles away from Georgetown, where the last remaining polling location in the county would be located. It would take over four hours to walk from Morris to Georgetown. Because Quitman County has little to no public transportation options, a voter who wants to vote but does not have a car would face significant, and potentially insurmountable, hurdles to exercising their right to vote.
These transportation burdens would also fall more heavily on Black voters. A plurality of Quitman County residents, who are disproportionately Black, have either no car or only one car per household.
“When polling place closures disproportionately impact on racial minorities or lower-income voters, such actions may constitute a violation of the Voting Rights Act or the United States Constitution,” stated Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We urge the board to reject the proposal to close the Morris precinct.”