Editor's Brief

Is A Georgia County Using The ADA As An Excuse To Disenfranchise Voters?

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4:  Voters turn out to cast their ballots at polling locations on November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: Georgia voter stickers are displayed for voters in the midterm election at Grady High School on November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn... ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: Georgia voter stickers are displayed for voters in the midterm election at Grady High School on November 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is running in a tight race against Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 23, 2018 12:40 pm

Tierney Sneed mentioned in this week’s voting rights primer that we’re following a proposal in Georgia by the Randolph County board of elections to shutter seven out of nine of the county’s polling places. The county’s population is 61 percent black, and, Kira Lerner notes at ThinkProgress, this would likely not have been possible if the Supreme Court had not gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

The move to shut down the polling places rests on the claim that these locations are not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The election board is expected to make its final decision tomorrow.

Voting-rights activists see this fight as part of a larger trend: The DOJ using the ADA to shut down polling locations in poor, often minority areas. This, or course, makes it harder to vote, and means that those who do vote may have to travel further and wait in line longer to cast a ballot.

Lerner writes:

Under President Trump, the department has settled at least five enforcement actions in counties across the country where polling locations do not meet the stringent requirements of the ADA. Four of the five locations targeted by the Justice Department — Chicago, Ill.; Chesapeake, Va.; Coconino County, Ariz.; and Richland County, S.C. — have significant minority populations.

Also interesting: HuffPost submitted a FOIA request for the documents underlying Randolph County’s decision to close the polling places. Turns out, it doesn’t have any. “There is no document, report or analysis studying the handicap accessibility of polling places in Randolph County and the cost of fixing them within the time frame specified in your open records request,” a lawyer for the county told the publication.

We’ll be following what happens tomorrow.

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