By Megan Cerullo
A Georgia county has proposed closing seven of its nine polling places on the basis that they are not sufficiently accessible to handicapped individuals, sparking outrage among local residents and activists.
Randolph County's Board of Elections on Thursday floated the proposal to keep just two voting locations open, claiming there isn't enough time to revamp the others ahead of the November election, WALB reported.
"Convenience of the voter, you all not considering that at all," one meeting attendee said, according to the report.
Others wondered why the closures would occur now, between the primary and November elections.
American Civil Liberties Union legal director Sean Young questioned the motive behind the initiative.
"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 that is?" Young asked, according to the report.
A consultant hired to evaluate the polling centers said the locations in question are not sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities.
The ACLU of Georgia maintains that the proposal discriminates against African-Americans living in poverty, who make up a majority of the county's population.
They don't have access to reliable transportation, and cannot reasonably access either of the two locations that would remain open under the proposal.
Young said some rural voters would have to walk three and a half hours to reach their voting places on election day if the proposal is approved.
"The bottom line is, it's about race, that's the problem that it's creating," another meeting attendee said, according to the report.
The ACLU threatened to file suit against the Board of Elections if they do not arrive at an agreeable resolution.
A vote on the matter is expected to take place on Aug. 24.
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