A case of possible voter suppression is having a light shone on it in Georgia this week.
A group of elderly black citizens, organized by the Black Voters Matter Fund, was boarding a bus in Jefferson County to be taken to the polls earlier this week. However, before they could get going, they received word from their senior center director to get off the bus.
LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told the Atlanta newspaper:
“We knew it was an intimidation tactic. It was really unnecessary. These are grown people.”
But why force 40 elderly citizens off the bus?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who contacted a Jefferson County’s administrator, the trip was considered a “political activity,” something not allowed at county-sponsored events. The bus ride was considered county-sponsored because its participants originated from a county-run senior center.
In a post made to the Black Voters Matter Facebook page, they declared their resistance against the act:
Voter suppression is real, y’all and it happened to us today in Louisville, Georgia in Jefferson County. We had a whole busload of beautiful black elders ready to go vote when the county commissioner shut us down and made our elders get off the bus without having the chance to vote. This is voter suppression pure and simple. These elders have been through this time and time again so today was fuel to our fire! Instead of bring five family members and friends, they’re gonna bring twenty! Can’t stop, won’t stop. When we work together, we win.
People online were quick to voice their support for the elderly group, and did not hold back from slamming the county’s actions:
Black elderly tried to vote yesterday. They were pulled over. This must stop! #Georgia, we are watching you.
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) October 17, 2018
Monday was the beginning of in-person early voting in Georgia, where there is a hard-fought race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who also happens to be the Secretary of State of Georgia, overseeing the very election in which he is participating. That plus the fact that Abrams is African-American, has people crying foul.
“Somebody called the county commission to complain because they saw all these black folks get on this big black bus. It’s the blackest bus in America,” said Cliff Albright, Black Voters Matter Fund’s other founder.
But that doesn’t mean those voters won’t get to vote, of course. In fact, Abrams joined many of the seniors who were taken off the bus for a rally near the senior center to encourage every Georgian to vote early.
Abrams told Think Progress:
“My goal is to make certain that every person be able to cast their vote. That’s why I wanted to come to Louisville to just encourage everyone to take advantage of the chance to early vote. Even if there are obstacles, we have to recognize that those obstacles are only permanent if we don’t fight them. We want to make certain that the folks of Louisville in Jefferson County understand that we are standing with them as they cast their votes.“
And one woman who was among those taken off the bus and who attended the rally, 70 year-old Bernice Hunley, explained what she did after getting off the bus:
“I got right off the bus, went in my truck, and went over there. Me and another lady from the center.”
Early voting in Georgia runs through November 2.