An elections board in a rural county in northeastern Georgia is looking to close six of its seven polling stations for next year’s elections, a move that was made possible by a controversial state law passed earlier this year.
Lincoln County, Georgia residents are speaking out against the proposal. Originally scheduled to vote on last week, but the county board of election lacked the quorum and postponed it until a later time.
Some residents requested that the vote be delayed until next month to allow for public input. At least one official said the vote will occur next week, although it’s unclear when it will happen for sure, as there has been no public notice about it.
If the measure is passed, it would allow residents to vote in Lincolnton’s county seat. The Augusta Chronicle reported. Although Lincoln County’s population is small at just 7,690 residentsDenise Freeman, an activist and former member of the county school board, stated that residents would need to travel up 23 miles to vote. That would be 46 miles round trip.
Board members say that creating a single place to vote will make things “easier and more accessible,” adding that it will reduce the need to transport voting equipment to multiple sites in the county. But many residents aren’t sold on the idea, arguing that it’s disenfranchising and harmful to the area’s Black population, which makes up about 29 percent of the county’s total.
“This is not about convenience for the citizens,” said Freeman. “This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.”
“The citizens are looking at the disenfranchisement of the body of the people that now have to go to a place outside of their area to vote,” said Rev. Chris Johnson is the head of Augusta Interfaith Coalition.
The proposal is being considered is a result of a state lawSenate Bill 202, which allows state legislators in Georgia to dissolve county boards, was passed in Georgia this spring. They consider themselves unfit.. Local boards were dissolved in six counties across Georgia (including Lincoln) under separate bills passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature using the powers that were delegated under SB 202. The newly-formed Lincoln County board agreed with a “consolidation” plan that was offered under the legislation.
There were also changes to the composition of elections boards. In Lincoln County, for example, the new law allowed for its election board to be picked entirely by the county’s Republican-led county board of commissioners. Previously, Democrats and Republicans were given equal apportionment to the election board.