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August 17, 2018

ATLANTA -- Tonight, Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia, will deliver the following remarks at the Randolph County Board of Elections & Registration courtesy meeting in Shellman concerning the proposal to close the seven out of nine polling places in the county on the eve of the November general elections.

On Tuesday, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Randolph County Board of Elections & Registration demanding it reject the proposal because it is discriminatory, unjustifiable, and violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Testimony of Andrea Young
Executive Director
The ACLU of Georgia
Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration
August 17, 2018

Members of the Randolph County Board of Elections & Registration, thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight. My name is Andrea Young, and I am the Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia.  I am a native Georgian,  born in Thomasville, Georgia where my mother taught elementary school and my father pastored the Bethany Congregational Church.  

Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the ACLU of Georgia has been dedicated to protecting the sacred, constitutional right to vote for all Georgians. We are here to express our strong opposition to the discriminatory proposal to eliminate 7 out of 9 polling places in Randolph County on the eve of the November elections.  This proposal will completely prevent rural voters without access to transportation from voting in person on election day.

Members of the board, if you care about our democracy and prefer to avoid unnecessary legal liability, we recommend that you reject this proposal.

I want to make four points today.

First, this proposal will have a discriminatory impact on African Americans and likely violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

The federal Voting Rights Act is a federal law thatmy father, Andrew Young, risked his life to pass. It was enacted to eliminate legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote. As you are well aware, Randolph County is 60% African-American—twice the percentage as that of the State of Georgia. Eliminating 7 out of 9 polling places in this county places a new  burden on African American voters in this county.

Second, this proposal fails the commonsense test.Apparently all 9 polling places were necessary for the primary election in May and the run-off election last month in July. Yet, this proposal assumes that only 2 polling places are necessary for the upcoming November elections, which is expected to have a much higher turnout. Why?

Third, the ADA argument is spurious.The only justification we have heard has to do with compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.   This is putting sheep’s clothing on a wolf.  We support the requests of community members that the public buildings be brought in compliance with the ADA.  Closing these polls will not improve access for people with disabilities and will make it harder for everyone in these communities to vote.

Fourth, Mr. Malone’s contract, qualifications and his record as an election supervisor should be made public.  The poll closing proposal comes from an outside contractor, Mike Malone. The community is being asked to trust him as an unbiased “expert” in this area. With one exception, the counties where he has worked as a consultant on poll closings have been counties that equal or exceed the percentage of Georgia’s statewide African-American population.  Public records show that he is a financial contributor to Brian Kemp’s campaign for Governor.

Members of the Randolph County Board of Elections & Registration, we urge you to stand up for democracy and to reject this unnecessary and discriminatory proposal. We urge you to protect the right of all Randolph voters to exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote in every election.

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