Georgia election board plots Jim Crow-like assault on black voting


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By Ian Milhiser, ThinkProgress

A Georgia election board proposed shutting down seven of the nine polling locations in an overwhelmingly black rural county. It’s the sort of blatantly illegal idea that would have been swiftly dismissed by federal courts in an age when an openly racist president was not appointing judges to the federal bench….

According to a letter from the ACLU of Georgia to the Randolph County Board of Elections, over 60 percent of the voters in this county are African American — and one of the polling places the board may close “serves a 96.7% black population.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 10: Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves the room following a meeting and press availability with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of Randolph County residents do not own cars, meaning that many of these voters could have to walk more than 3 hours to get to a polling place. Even voters with car could have to drive 10 to 20 minutes to reach a polling place under the board’s proposal.

The board also released this proposal not long after Democrats nominated Stacey Abrams, an African American woman, as their gubernatorial candidate.

Under the Voting Rights Act, election officials may not take an action that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Thus, the ACLU could potentially prevail in a lawsuit against the election board if it shows that closing seven of Randolph County’s nine polling places will have a disparate effect on black voters, even if they cannot prove that the board acted with racist intent.

Yet it is likely that, if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, there will soon be five votes to gut this provision of the Voting Rights Act. As a young lawyer, Chief Justice John Roberts opposed President Reagan’s decision to sign this provision of the Voting Rights Act into law in 1982. More recently, during oral arguments in a 2015 housing discrimination case, Roberts implied that civil rights laws which allow plaintiffs to prevail without showing that lawmakers acted with racist intent are unconstitutional.

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