Residents In Georgia Town Worried About Black Voter Turnout After Sole Polling Station Gets Relocated To Police Station
Civil rights leaders say elected officials violated the law when they relocated the city's only voting location.
Residents of Jonesboro, Georgia, are outraged after the city decided to relocate the town's only voting location.
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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law expressed the people's frustration in a letter to the Jonesboro City Council, saying the city's decision would suppress the turnout of Black voters.
"We are writing to voice our strong objections to the relocation of the sole polling location for the City of Jonesboro’s municipal election day voting from the Firehouse Museum to the City of Jonesboro Police Department and demand that you rescind this decision immediately," the group said in the statement.
Civil rights leaders also said the city's decision to move the polling place to the police station would negatively affect the turnout of Black voters who have had negative encounters with officers.
The Jonesboro Police Department has a history of clashing with Black residents, including an allegation of police brutality which led to the resignation of the city’s police chief last year.
In their letter to elected officials, the group said the city violated the rule which prohibits the city from relocating polling stations 60 days before an election.
"In this case, the Jonesboro municipal election is scheduled to take place on November 5," the statement read.
"The action taken by the Clayton County BOER on September 10, 2019 to change this location violated the 60-day moratorium," Civil rights leaders said in their statement. "As a result, the Clayton County Board of Election must rescind the approval of this polling location change immediately."
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, City Manager Ricky Clark said the polling place had to be moved because the existing precinct at the Jonesboro Firehouse Museum is under construction for a redevelopment called the Broad Street Project.
“The chambers of the police department where the polling place will be located is the exact location where all Council meetings of the city of Jonesboro take place, which makes it the most comfortable and familiar location for residents of the city of Jonesboro who will be coming to vote,” Clark told the Journal-Constitution.
Clark said the city didn't violate the 60-day law because the council voted on September 3, which is 63 days before the election on November 5.