For the vast amount of Americans who do not live in the Deep South, the concept of Blacks not being allowed to vote seems ludicrous. But it is not and it is happening in Georgia once again in a most devious way.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is in charge of the election process in the state. He is also running for Governor of Georgia on the Republican ticket. His Democrat opponent is Stacy Abrams, a woman who has shocked the state by handily beating her male opponents. If Abrams wins, she will be the first Black woman to ever become governor of a state. This prospect must have Kemp and others scared because according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, polling locations where Blacks are in the majority are being targeted for closure.
Earlier in August in Randolph County, Georgia, election officials announced the closings of 7 of 9 poll locations. The excuse used was that the buildings did not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and that the county could be fined. One polling location closed is in an area that is 97 percent Black and these residents will have to make a 30-mile round trip journey to vote at the next available location. The county population is a little over 7K but now it is in the spotlight of the governor’s race.
After widespread backlash, Kemp, came out publicly opposed to the closing of these polls in Randolph County. However, it was revealed that Mike Malone, the man behind the recommendations of closure was, in fact, an “associate of Kemp,” so Kemp’s public outcry was actually a distraction. It is being reported by Slate as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution that ten Georgia counties with large Black populations have adopted Malone’s recommendation on the closure of polling places. In addition, audio recordings have surfaced with Malone stating that Secretary of State Brian Kemp recommended “polling consolidation” in Randolph County. It is alleged that Malone has been using the ADA requirement as an excuse to work with election officials to close these locations. In some cases, the poll locations were already in public buildings, which should be compliant. But rather than fix any issues in the buildings, it was decided to close the polls.
States in the Deep South with a history of disenfranchising Black voters in the past, which lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, are now claiming that these conditions no longer exist some 50 years later. As such, they are requesting that the federal government no longer take an active role in the state election process. But in Georgia, the same mindset with 21st century dirty tricks against Black voters is in full effect.