A small, rural county in Georgia is pushing back after election officials announced they were considering closing all but one of the local polling locations.
Lincoln County –– located northwest of August, just over 130 miles east of Atlanta –– is one of six counties in Georgia that has dissolved or restructured local election boards after the state’s controversial election law was passed last year.
One of those reconfigured boards eliminated Sunday voting as an option, while several others kicked Democrats from serving on the boards.
“What’s happening in Georgia with the dismantling of these county election boards is an extreme example of the national trend in Republican-controlled states to undermine local election officials,” Jonathan Diaz, senior legal counsel at Campaign Legal Center, told CNN.
Activists in Lincoln are fighting back though, some even going door-to-door alerting neighbors to the pending changes and getting hundreds of signatures on petitions to keep the polling locations open.
“We should be making voting more accessible,” Rev. Denise Freeman, one of the activists working to fight the polling closures, told CNN. Republican election officials defended the closures citing outdated locations don’t allow for social distancing, and there’s not enough poll workers or equipment to go around to each site.
Freeman says that with the polling location closures, many people would have to travel upwards of 20 miles to vote at the proposed central location. Without reliable public transportation, Freeman says the closures seem “like they only want a select group of people to vote.”
On Wednesday (January 19), the board delayed a vote on the matter to verify signatures on the petitions collected by Freeman and other voting rights groups.
With the midterm elections coming up and as the Senate failed to get two federal voting protections acts passed, local level fights like the one in Lincoln are becoming critical to breaking barriers to the ballot.