Racist Georgia Polling Place Fuckery: Can You BELIEVE It's Jeff Sessions-Approved?!
As we noted last week, the elections board of Randolph County, Georgia, is up to some truly evil fuckery with a suddenly announced plan to shut all but two of the county's nine polling places for the general election -- in a mostly black county that tends to vote heavily Democratic, and right in time for a kickass black female gubernatorial nominee. Since then, there have been some developments! For instance, the elections board has come up with a rationale for shuttering the polling places in the rural county: They just have to, because the existing polling places are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Gosh, wouldn't want to violate the ADA, so let's shutter the polling places. Got no choice, you see? They even managed to say it with a straight face.
At a hearing last Thursday, consultant Mike Malone, who was hired by the elections board, insisted the ADA compliance issues were simply insurmountable, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Your polling places are not ADA-compliant. Period," said Malone, who outlined moldy conditions and electrical problems at some sites. "That's all I can say about them."
Pressed on alternatives to residents concerned about getting to the polls, Malone outlined another option: "Voters have 45 days prior to the election to apply and secure an absentee ballot by mail."
As the ACLU has already argued, people in some parts of the county would have to travel 10 miles (a three-hour walk each way) to reach the nearest polling place. Tough doody: It's all because interfering Washington DC liberals like Bob Dole passed the ADA back in the '90s. We have to confess, when it comes to ratfucking the Democratic vote, these guys are endlessly creative.
So we bet Mr. Malone must have written a really detailed report about the many obstacles to accessible voting at all seven of the polling places on the hit list, huh? Maybe not so much: As HuffPo writer Sam Levine reports today, a records request to the county didn't turn up anything to document those supposedly disqualifying ADA violations.
"There is no document, report or analysis studying the handicap accessibility of polling places in Randolph County and the cost of fixing them within the time frame specified in your open records request," Hayden Hooks, an attorney with the firm Perry & Walters, which represents Randolph County, wrote in an email. The county has no record of such a document in the past year, Hooks added.
At least the county could produce a record showing it had hired Malone as a consultant back in April -- but sadly, not a shred of evidence to back up his rationale for closing the polling places. But Levine notes Malone did at least share some photos of "problematic bathrooms and parking access," which surely means nobody should be allowed to use those polling places, even though they were somehow good enough to use for this year's primary elections and the primary run-off.
Update: Slate notes that at last Thursday's meeting of the elections board, Malone said he'd been encouraged to find opportunities to close polling places by the Republican candidate for governor, Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Malone told the meeting that
[Kemp] had asked him to go around the state and "recommend polling place closures" to various counties. Ten Georgia counties have already taken Malone's suggestions and closed polling places. All of those counties have large black populations.
What's more, the Georgia Democrats website says there's audio, but if there is, it's not on the site. Kemp has urged Randolph County not to close the polling places, although it sure looks like he nudged the plan forward in the first place.
Why yes, the fuckery DOES go deeper: It turns out that although Randolph County is acting like it just discovered last week that it absolutely must close these terrible, non-ADA compliant polling places immediately, Levine notes the county had actually
entered into a three-year settlement agreement with the Justice Department in 2012 to update facilities, including polling locations, to ensure they were compliant with the ADA.
"That agreement from 2012 required them to survey all their third party-owned polling places and their county-owned polling places. So where did these inaccessible polling places come from?" said Eve Hill, a former Justice Department attorney who signed off on the Randolph County settlement. "There's no reason you would have chosen inaccessible polling places after 2015 when the DOJ already told you not to do that ― and that you would suddenly discover their inaccessibility and close them, which is not what the ADA demands, immediately before an election."
You know, a very cynical person might almost suspect the ADA "issues" were cobbled together as a really shitty excuse to keep black people from voting in the general election.
Oh, yes, and would you believe there's EVEN MORE FUCKERY here? Think Progress reports the Trump/Sessions Justice Department has been deploying the ADA in a similar fashion, using ADA noncompliance as a tool to fuck with minority communities' access to voting:
Jim Tucker, an attorney and member of the Native American Voting Rights Coalition, said he learned earlier this year that the Department of Justice's Disability Rights Section is targeting at least three largely Native American counties, where facilities used as polling locations often lack paved parking lots, designated handicapped parking spots, entrance ramps, wide doorways, and other ADA-required features. In several counties, the Justice Department has threatened enforcement actions if local governments do not either spend large sums of money to modernize polling locations or shutter them altogether.
"It's a diabolical move: citing one civil rights statute (the ADA) as the justification for violating another (the VRA)," Tucker, who previously worked in the DOJ's Voting Section, told ThinkProgress. "These sorts of closures can effectively disenfranchise entire communities of voters, all under the false guise of purportedly seeking to make polling places accessible for the disabled."
You can almost see Stephen Miller giggling in delight while ol' Jeff Sessions tries to hold a legal folder over his swimsuit area, can't you? Stupid libs want to regulate stuff, well then we'll just do what they want, and they won't be able to complain, because don't they looooooooove the wheelchair people when they show up and get arrested for Obamacare?
Yr Wonkette would also like to call your attention to this horrifying piece on Georgia's insanely dubious voting machines, which makes at least a plausible case that the touchscreen machines -- which leave no paper record and thus can't be verified -- may have been compromised. Not by Russians, but by Georgians of the non-Slavic variety, for the purpose of giving R candidates that little extra oomph they needed to win close elections, going back decades, y'all. It's persuasive if not definitive, but regardless of whether the digital fix is in, Georgia seems to already be hard at work turning out some fine old artisanal, hand-crafted ratfucking for this fall.
Fortunately, the ACLU and other civil rights groups are already primed to give the bastards holy hell. We'll keep you updated.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.