Cuthbert, Ga- A proposal by the Randolph County Board of Elections to permanently close 7 out of 9 polling locations brought voters out in full force on Thursday. In what the board is calling a “courtesy” meeting to inform voters of the possible decision, citizens voiced their concerns along with the ACLU of Georgia.
Members of the Randolph County Board of Elections say their proposal to close the polling places has absolutely nothing to do with suppressing the black vote, but everything to do with polling places that are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But the citizens of Randolph County, many of whom lived through the civil rights era, say otherwise.
“I’m not a rocket scientist, but what I see…unless we do something, they’ve already made a decision to cut these out,” said one resident.
A decision to close 7 out of 9 polling places-leaving many in this rural area without access to exercise their vote on election day. Sean J. Young, Legal Director of ACLU of Georgia: “People who don’t have a car, they’re gonna have to walk 3 1/2 hours to get to the closest polling place if this proposal goes through.”
And the board’s solution?
“Voters have 45 days prior to the election to apply and secure an absentee ballot by mail,” said one board representative.
For Henry Cook, that was not a viable option.
“We might as well get our act together with the ACLU and get ready to file a lawsuit…because there have been decisions that have already been made,” says Cook.
Like, the horrible conditions of most of the polling places-mold and exposed wiring-which is why the board is proposing to close them.
“If you cut your hand, you don’t chop off your arm. You heal the cut that’s on your hand,” says Cook. “So let’s get these polling places compliant with the ADA. Let’s create working conditions that are sanitary for our hardworking poll workers and not disenfranchise voters in the process.”
“What we should all be about is getting more people to vote and not less,” says Gerald Greene, State Representative, District 151 (R-Cuthbert).
“This is why we must stand up and challenge the powers to be…that we’re not gonna back down off of this,” says Rev. Ezekiel Holley.
The Randolph County Board of Elections says Thursday’s meeting will be one of at least two that they intend to hold before any decision is made to close polling places. Sean J. Young of the ACLU of Georgia says, while legal action is a last resort, he’s hopeful both sides will be able to work towards a resolution.