RANDOLPH CO., GA (WALB) - Dozens of Randolph County residents are upset with the Board of Elections, which has proposed closing 75 percent of the polling locations in the county.
Officials said they can only keep two voting locations open because they are not handicap accessible and don't have time to fix them before the November election.
It seemed every person at the Thursday night's meeting was against the proposal except for one.
Many people couldn't understand why they weren't considering fixing the polling places instead of closing them all together.
"Convenience of the voter, you all are not considering that at all," said one attendee.
Passionate residents voiced their concerns to the Board of Elections about the proposal submitted to close 75 percent of polling locations.
A reoccurring question was why now, between the primary and the November election?
Legal Director of the A.C.L.U. Sean Young said "Eliminate 7 out of 9 polling locations, that's going to guarantee lower turnout for the election and makes you wonder if that is what the purpose of this is?" asked Sean Young, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The Board of Elections hired a consultant to come evaluate and give the recommendations. In their presentation, they pointed out that the seven polling locations they are trying to close are not ADA complaint, meaning the locations aren't accessible to people with disabilities.
"Your polling places are not ADA compliant, period. That's all I can say about it," said an attendee.
The ACLU of Georgia was in attendance and argued that this proposal was discriminatory because a majority of the populations in the county is African-American and live in poverty, without reliable transportation.
"Impossible for rural voters without vehicles to vote on election day," said Young. "It will be impossible, they will have to walk three and a half hours to get to these voting places to Cuthbert and Shellman."
"The bottom line is, it's about race, that's the problem that it's creating," said another attendee.
"We heard a lot about the ADA tonight and that's a very important federal law, but another law that is just as important is the voting rights act," Young said.
Residents and the ACLU said that if an agreement cannot be reached, they will take the issue to court.
"Get our act together, with ACLU and file a lawsuit," said someone else at the meeting.
"A change, you have to stand up. You cannot allow this to continue," someone else said.
Another public information meeting will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at the Shellman Train Depot.
Ultimately, the Board of Elections will make the final decision.
WALB News 10 asked officials when that date would be and they said they do not have a set date at this time. But they said they would let the media and the public know when the decision would be.
The seven voting locations proposed to be closed are listed below:
- Cuthbert Middle School
- Fountain Bridge
- Fourth District