Attempt to close voting site in Ga. black areas fizzles

Voting rights advocates immediately went to work against a proposal they say would have disenfranchised African-Americans at the polls

Nina Durham is adorned with political pins during the primary election night event for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on May 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

A proposed measure to shut down voting sites in predominately black areas in Georgia was blocked on Friday by a state elections board, Reuters reports.

READ MORE: ACLU challenges measure closing nine Black polling precincts ahead of midterm elections

The ACLU challenged a plan to close seven of the nine polling places in predominately black precincts in Randolph County, including Cuthbert Middle School where nearly 97 percent of voters are black, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

“There is strong evidence that this was done with intent to make it harder for African Americans,” ACLU of Georgia attorney Sean Young told the Times earlier in the week.

Many also saw this as an attempt to suppress votes to prevent Stacey Abrams from possibly becoming the first black woman governor of the state.

Abrams is running against Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Brian Kemp,  who is also the Secretary of State. He later asked that the planned closure be canned.

The proposal came from an elections consultant that had donated money to Kemps’s campaign.

“We are pleased African-Americans voters in Randolph County will be able to access polling stations in November,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a phone interview to Reuters.

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“Too often they are faced with voter suppression tactics like this which are clearly motivated by racial animus.”

According to the latest census figures, Randolph County’s population is more than 61 percent of black, double the statewide percentage, the NY Times reports.

Black voters would have been heavily affected, the ACLU claimed, especially those with limited access to transportation to get to another polling place if their closest precinct is closed.

The ACLU says there is no public transportation in the rural county and people could have to travel an additional 10 miles to vote.

“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.”