ATLANTA – Today, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration urging it to reverse its decision to move a polling place to a police station. Moving a polling place to a police station is a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any attempt to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person from voting or attempting to vote.”
Forcing voters to cast their ballots under the steely gaze of armed law enforcement officers all but amounts to government-sponsored voter intimidation. This is especially troubling given the fact that this polling location serves a majority Black community.
In this country’s not-so-distant past, law enforcement officers abused their authority to stop Black people from exercising their sacred, constitutional right to vote. In other instances, Blacks were murdered by factions who refused to let them vote. In January of this year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, "In late July 1946, the lynchings of five African-Americans in Georgia made national headlines …. The first killing was of Maceo Snipes, an African-American World War II veteran. Snipes was killed in Taylor County, in retaliation for daring to vote in a statewide primary election. For that, four white men shot him outside a relative’s home."
“Voter intimidation is illegal under federal law,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “By placing a polling location in a police station, authorities are ignoring the century-long history of law enforcement officers’ harassing and arresting Black voters.”