Election officials in a rural southwest Georgia county are defending a plan to suddenly close seven of the county’s nine polling places against allegations of racial discrimination, saying the ones it wants to close are not sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities.
Randolph County, the site of the proposed changes, is more than 60 percent black, with a little over 30 percent of residents in poverty ― more than double the national level. The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the election board earlier this week warning of a lawsuit because the proposed closures discriminated against black voters. Those voters, the group said, were less likely to own a car and would be required to walk over three hours to one of the two remaining polling locations because there is no public transportation to get them there. The ACLU also noted the voter makeup of one of the polling places officials wanted to close was 96.7 percent black.
During a public meeting to discuss the changes Thursday evening, Mike Malone, a consultant hired by the county, said the seven polling places did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Officials said they don’t have time to fix them, so they would close them instead, WALB reported.
“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,” he said. “They have had decades to fix these issues and have had elections in these polling places. The better question is why haven’t these issues been fixed? And why, instead of fixing them, are you shutting them down?”
Right, this is about a sincere desire to promote accessibility. And simply giving nobody access to polling places is definitely a remedy for this problem! This is the vote suppression equivalent of Trump claiming he was firing Comey because he made inappropriate prejudicial statements about Clinton.
Of course, what’s particularly ridiculous is that John Roberts or Sam Soprano would 100% be willing to pretend to take this explanation at face value while writing a 5-4 majority opinion upholding the action.