Randolph County: Don't Suppress The Black Vote
The elections board of Randolph County, Georgia, will soon vote on whether to close almost all of the polling stations in this majority-Black community with no public transportation. Many people could effectively be silenced and shut out of the upcoming midterm elections.
Purportedly, the Randolph County Board of Elections wants to close seven of nine polling stations because they fail to meet accessibility standards defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But closing polling places doesn't solve problems of accessibility – it denies access to voting for everyone.
There is evidence that the decision to shut down 75% of the polls in Randolph County intends to suppress the Black vote – and it's no coincidence that the Georgia gubernatorial race is hotly contested this year by Stacey Abrams, the state's first Black woman candidate from a major party.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 required jurisdictions to prove that any voting changes aren't discriminatory, but because the Supreme Court gutted these protections in the 2013 Shelby County decision, Randolph County could get away with closing its polls without ever showing proof of so-called ADA-noncompliance.
Without VRA protections, places like Randolph County are more vulnerable to voter suppression. We're already seeing this same story playing out in other places with large minority communities, like Chicago, IL, Chesapeake, VA, Coconino County, AZ, and Richland County, SC. In all of these counties, Trump's Justice Department has targeted polls for closure for the supposed reason of ADA-noncompliance.
Voter suppression takes many forms, from voter ID laws to polling station closures to voter registration purges. It's up to us to make sure we snuff out these anti-democratic, racist schemes when we see them – before they take hold in our own communities. Take the first step and save the polls of Randolph County.