Georgia Republicans can’t help but be Georgia Republicans, and in what is totally not voter suppression, the third largest county in the state announced plans to significantly reduce early voting locations for the upcoming Senate runoff election.
According to the New York Times, election officials in Georgia’s Cobb County have announced plans to substantially reduce the number of early voting locations from 11 in the general election to just five for the runoff. Cobb County is Georgia’s third largest county and swung in the favor of the Democrats during both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
“It was not our desire to reduce the number of early voting locations for the runoff, but unfortunately it became a necessity,” Janine Eveler, the Cobb County director of elections, said in a statement. Eveler cites staffing shortages as the reason for the reduced locations. “We are at the end of the election cycle and many are tired or just unwilling to work so hard, especially during this time of year,” Eveler added.
While advocacy groups such as the Stacey Abrams-led Fair Fight Action and the NAACP have offered to help recruit staffers for the upcoming runoff, Eveler said there isn’t enough time to fully train any new recruits.
Local Democratic leaders in the state can’t help but see partisan politics at play and it’s not like they don’t have a good reason. Georgia Republicans have an extensive history of suppressing the vote; it’s the whole reason Stacey Abrams formed Fair Fight. The fact that these closures are in predominantly Democratic-leaning areas only makes the move look more sus.
“There is the stated reason that we’ve been given why they’re doing it, which is the lack or inability to find staff to work, but then there’s also the perceived action of having 10 polling locations open to early voting in an area that didn’t fare well for the current majority parity,” said Erick Allen, a Democratic state representative in Georgia. “The perception is that there is a fear that doing the same thing would have the same result or contribute to the same result that would be unfavorable to the majority party.”
An open letter from multiple organizations, including the ACLU and NAACP, implores election officials to keep these locations open. There is significant concern that this move would unfairly suppress the Black and brown vote, as some of the locations being closed are in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
“Georgia’s Black and Latinx residents are more likely to live in poverty than other residents and will have more difficulty traveling long distances to access advance voting locations, especially because of the limited public transportation options in Cobb County,” the letter stated. “As a result, the elimination of advance voting locations will discourage or prevent many of Cobb County’s Black and Latinx voters from participating in the runoff election.”
Unfortunately, stopping Black people from voting seems to be the M.O., of the Republican Party.
Early voting begins on Dec.14 in the state, with the runoff election being held on Jan. 5. The election will see Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) going up against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), and Jon Ossoff (D) against Sen. David Perdue (R). The outcome will determine which party gets control of the Senate. Should both Warnock and Ossoff win their races, there will be a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris becoming the tie-breaker vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber.