In Huge Win For Voting Rights, Georgia Officials Reject Plan To Close Polling Sites

They were in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

A proposal in Randolph County, Georgia, to close 7 of 9 voting sites was soundly rejected in less than a minute on Friday, marking a huge victory for civil rights advocates in a fight that garnered national attention.

Randolph County — a small rural county in Georgia — is home to a population that is 61 percent African American, and one of the polling sites had a population of voters in it that is 95 percent Black. A consultant hired by the county made the proposal, claiming the seven sites didn't meet the requirements of the American Disabilities Act.

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"This is putting sheep's clothing on a wolf," Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, testified during a meeting about the proposal. "We support the requests of community members that the public buildings be brought in compliance with the ADA. Closing these polls will not improve access for people with disabilities and will make it harder for everyone in these communities to vote."


Photo Credit: Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

The attempt to close the polling stations drew particular attention because of the upcoming election in November it would have impacted. Stacey Abrams — after winning her Democratic primary — is running to become the first Black governor in the history of Georgia. That made the perceived targeting of African-American voters all the more concerning. 

It wasn't just Abrams, the NAACP, and voting rights activists who called for the plan to be dropped, though. Even Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who suggested hiring the consultant who proposed the plan, called for officials to drop it.

"This is a victory for African American voters who, too often, are subject to voting discrimination and racial animus," Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said on Twitter. "Make no mistake, today's victory was the result of collective resistance and the courage of African American voters in Randolph County, Georgia who refused to stand silent in the face of this discriminatory, voter suppression scheme."

As news broke of the proposal's failure, voting rights advocates celebrated across the country.

"In the United States, the right to vote is sacred," the Randolph County Board of Elections said in a statement. "The interest and concern shown has been overwhelming, and it is an encouraging reminder that protecting the right to vote remains a fundamental American principle."

(H/T: New York Times)

Cover image: Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

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