Randolph County: Voters organize rally in an effort to stop poll closures

Local News

Cuthbert, Ga- Concerned voters in Randolph County spent their Wednesday afternoon rallying and collecting signatures in an attempt to halt the proposal to close seven out of nine polling places between the cities of Cuthbert and Shellman. News 3 covered the meeting on August 17 where Mike Malone, a consultant to the Randolph County Board of Elections made his case for closing the polling places-citing non-compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now Randolph voters say, they too will not be compliant with what they view is an attempt to strip them of their right to vote. 

“We’ve seen this before,” said Latosha Brown, Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund. “But just like we beat it back before, we’re gonna beat it again.”

The year is 2018, but inside the Smokehouse Restaurant in Cuthbert where African-American voters have gathered to ensure access to the ballot box-they say it feels more like 1960. 

“The people and the forces we fought in the ’50’s and ’60’s have not forgotten and have not yielded and have not given up,” said Bobby Fuse, Chairperson, Democratic Party of GA (2nd Congressional District). “They continue to fight everyday and so should we.”

It’s a point of view that many citizens in Randolph County, like Henry Cook agree with as they strategize to keep all available polling places open for voting. 

“We can’t just sit back and allow this stuff to happen I think they do it because they think they can get away with it,” said Cook. “And that’s something we just can’t tolerate here in Randolph County.”

At issue is a proposal by Mike Malone, a consultant to the Randolph County Board of Elections and a donor to Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. Malone wants close seven out of nine polling places, he says those polling locations fail to comply with The Americans with Disabilities Act. But voters say…

“The excuse they’re giving is this ADA compliance thing, but they should have dealt with that a long time ago,” said Richard Parker. 

“You know it’s actually utterly ridiculous. If it wasn’t in compliance with the ADA this year, then it wasn’t in compliance last year or the year before that. It’s really interesting that you discover that it wasn’t compliant with ADA a few months right before an election,” said Brown. 

Brown also says it’s apparent to her and others that the ADA excuse is a smokescreen to keep Blacks from voting. 

“Voter suppression is not just in Randolph County; there are things being done in Terrell, Sumter, Hancock-a lot of different counties,” said Fuse.

With a vote on the proposal scheduled for August 24, voters like Cook are seeking a long-term solution. 

“Even if they vote to table it that doesn’t keep them from doing it. So we’re prepared to go ahead with a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU.”

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