The Randolph County, Georgia elections board on Friday stopped the proposed closing of 7 of 9 polling locations. The move, in a majority black county, was seen as a victory for voting rights advocates just weeks before the November election. This year in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is trying to become the first African-American female governor in U.S. history.
“Randolph Co rejects plan to close 7 of 9 precincts! Thanks ACLU supporters!”
Randolph Co rejects plan to close 7 of 9 precincts! Thanks ACLU supporters! pic.twitter.com/s98stwCCox
— ACLU of Georgia (@ACLUofGA) August 24, 2018
The Randolph County board of elections, in a meeting that lasted just one minute, voted 2-0 to make no changes to voting precincts, a spokesman for the board told CNN.
Both Abrams and Republican candidate Brian Kemp, who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state, had asked county officials to drop the plan.
The proposal to close seven polling stations was submitted by an outside elections consultant who had donated money to Kemp’s campaign. County officials who had hired the consultant in April to work on election management fired him on Wednesday, according to the CNN report.
“We won! Voter suppression proposal in Randolph County abandoned,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said on Twitter following the vote. “This is a victory for African-American voters who, too often, are subject to voting discrimination and racial animus.”
BREAKING: We won! Voter suppression proposal in Randolph County abandoned. All 9 polling sites across the county will stand.
This is a victory for African American voters who, too often, are subject to voting discrimination and racial animus. @LawyersComm
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 24, 2018
The proposal would have closed the seven rural polling sites because they were not wheelchair accessible, which is a violation of federal disabilities law.
“The vote came amid widespread national criticism and days after the county terminated its contract with Mike Malone, the consultant who made the recommendation. Malone had argued that closing the polling stations would save the county money, and that some of the sites suggested for closure did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Edward Dubose, a member of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors, had this to say about the events in Randolph County:
“We are excited about this moment, but we’re watchful. This is a victory, but by no means should anyone relax. All of this happened under the leadership of Brian Kemp. We need to follow the trail all the way back and search out all of these attempts to set us back in voting rights. This is a small example of what’s happening across Georgia to disenfranchise African Americans and minority voters.”
Over 60 percent of Randolph County’s residents are black. The county is located 125 miles south of Atlanta.