Georgia officials want to close seven of the nine polling places in the predominantly-black county, and its purported reasons for doing so don’t add up, Huffington Post is reporting.
Randolph County, a rural county in the southwestern part of the state, is 61 percent African American. The county is also heavily Democratic, with Barack Obama having carried the county both times he ran, as well as Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Voting is already hard enough in Randolph County. Thirty percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and many don’t have access to cars. Lacking public transportation, many voters find it difficult to make it to the nine polling places in the county.
Now authorities want to lower that number to two.
As Huffington Post reported last week, as far as the American Civil Liberties Union is concerned, the move is nothing more than an attempt to disenfranchise the county’s black, Democratic voters. Officials, however, say that the reason they’re closing the polling places is because they’re not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Mike Malone, a consultant hired by the county, says that there’s no time to get them up to code before November’s election. Hence, they’ll have to be closed.
ACLU spokesperson Sean Young isn’t buying that.
“If a government building is not ADA compliant, the solution is to make them ADA compliant. If you cut your hand, you don’t chop off your arm, you heal the wound.”
In fact, Huffington Post subpoenaed records from the county to see if their claim that ADA compliance is forcing closure of the polling places holds water.
In fact, it doesn’t.
Hayden Hooks, an attorney with the firm Perry & Walters, which represents Randolph Count, looked over ADA complaints from Randolph County polling places dating back to March 2018. There wasn’t a single one.
“There is no document, report or analysis studying the handicap accessibility of polling places in Randolph County and the cost of fixing them within the time frame specified in your open records request.”
Randolph County voters aren’t having it, according to WBRC-TV (Birmingham).
At a meeting last week to discuss the proposed closures, attendees were not on board.
“Convenience of the voter, you all are not considering that at all.”
“Impossible for rural voters without vehicles to vote on election day.It will be impossible, they will have to walk three and a half hours to get to these voting places.”
“The bottom line is, it’s about race, that’s the problem that it’s creating.”
Georgia’s Board of Elections will ultimately decide whether or not to close the polling places in Randolph County. It is not clear, as of this writing, when such a decision is expected.