Election officials in a rural Georgia county are weighing plans to close all but one polling place ahead of this year’s elections, alarming local voting and civil rights groups.
But Wednesday’s vote by the Lincoln County elections board has reverberated far beyond this Georgia community of roughly 7,700 northwest of Augusta. The county is one of six in this battleground state that have disbanded or reconfigured their local election boards in the last year, thanks to recently passed bills by the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly.
Several Democrats have been tossed off the boards. One reconstituted board eliminated Sunday voting during a recent municipal election — an option popular among Black churchgoers, a key Democratic constituency.
“What’s happening in Georgia with the dismantling of these county election boards is an extreme example of the national trend in Republican-controlled states to undermine local election officials,” said Jonathan Diaz, senior legal counsel for voting rights at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for broad access to the ballot.
From Local 3 News
Lincoln County Commission Chairman Walker Norman, a Republican, defended both the changes to the election board and the poll closures, saying it will help move voters and election equipment to a central, modern facility.
“This has nothing to do with suppressing anybody’s vote,” he said.
“We have some little, old concrete block voting precincts that have been used for 40 years with no handicapped facilities at all,” Norman told CNN in a recent phone interview. “No real heat at all, no air-conditioning.”
And he scoffed at the idea that people would have problems casting their ballots, saying “99.9 percent of the public today has automobiles” and can get to the central polling location.
Voters also can seek absentee ballots to vote by mail, he said.