In what can only be hailed as a hard-fought victory against blatant voter suppression, on Friday, a rural Georgia elections board voted down a plan to close down seven of nine polling places in a majority-black county.
Many deemed the move “consolidate” polling places in Randolph County, Georgia as a brazen attempt to depress the black vote in what will be a historic election as a black woman, Democrat Stacey Abrams, faces off against a white man, Republican Brian Kemp, in November’s gubernatorial election.
CNN reports that the Randolph County Board of Elections vote—which lasted all of 50 seconds—recommended that the rural county, which is 61 percent African American, and which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, keep voting precincts as they are; all members unanimously voted in the affirmative.
The vote comes after the county terminated its contract with consultant Mike Malone, who made the recommendations. Malone concluded that the closures would save the county money and said that some of the sites suggested for closure did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
And in what only could be described as a conflict of interest, CNN reports that the consultant who made the recommendations, Mike Malone, contributed $250 to Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign.
Additionally, Kemp, who is Georgia’s Secretary of State, actually recommended Malone for the job, but Kemp’s office said it did not recommend Malone to propose polling site consolidation.
On Friday, Kemp said the Board of Elections in the county did the “right thing.”
The NAACP, which had been monitoring the situation, was cautiously optimistic.
“We are excited about this moment, but we’re watchful,” said Edward Dubose, a member of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors, to CNN. He added, “This is a small example of what’s happening across Georgia to disenfranchise African Americans and minority voters.”