Forty black seniors in Georgia were prevented from voting early on Monday when local government officials forced them off the bus taking them to the polls, according to a Tuesday Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.
The bus, run by a nonpartisan group called Black Voters Matter, was reportedly taking them to a polling place so they could participate in the first day of Georgia’s early in-person voting in the competitive gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Per the Journal-Constitution, county officials gave two reasons for forcing the would-be voters off the bus. They said “political activity” was not allowed during county-sponsored events, and considered the nonpartisan bus ride political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans helped organized it.
They also said they were “uncomfortable” with seniors riding in a bus with an “unknown third party.”
Co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown told the Journal-Constitution that despite the county’s attempts, the seniors were “resolved” to vote. “It wasn’t the first time someone has denied them or tried to prevent them from voting,” she added.
This is far from the first instance of voter suppression tactics in Georgia during the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.
The gubernatorial race has been riled by accusations that Kemp is keeping 53,000 voters — most of them black — from casting ballots due to his stringent “exact match” policy which allows for stalling and ultimately tossing a voter registration application if even minor details do not match state records.
Voting rights groups have sued Kemp for the practice, which they say disproportionately hurts minority voters.
Another lawsuit was brought by the Coalition for Good Governance on Tuesday against Kemp and a specific county in Georgia that has a notably high rate of rejecting mail-in ballots due to mistakes as small as writing in the current day’s date where the voter’s birthdate should go.