Story at a glance
- Cobb County will have five early voting locations instead of 11.
- Advocates in a letter Monday warned the poll closures are occurring in many Black and Latino communities.
- County election officials said they don’t have the resources to staff the 11 polling sites.
Civil rights and voting rights groups are urging a county in Georgia not to reduce the number of early voting sites in the state’s upcoming Senate runoff races, saying doing so disproportionately affects Black and Latino voters.
Election officials from Georgia’s third most populous county, Cobb County, recently announced they plan to open fewer than half of the early voting locations that were in place for the general election, reducing the number from 11 to five.
Advocates in a letter Monday warned the poll closures are occurring in many Black and Latino communities.
“While these closures are likely to adversely affect many Cobb County voters, we are especially concerned that these closures will be harmful to Cobb County’s Black and Latinx voters because many of the locations are in Black and Latinx communities. We urge you to maintain eleven advance voting locations for the upcoming runoff election,” said a letter signed by branches of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups.
But county elections officials said they don’t have the resources to operate all 11 polling locations for the runoff.
“We lost several of our advance voting managers and assistant managers due to the holidays, the workload and the pandemic,” Janine Eveler, Cobb County elections director, said in a letter to the group.
She said poll workers who stayed on board agreed to do so only “if the hours were less onerous.”
“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,” she said, according to The Washington Post.
But Cobb County isn’t the only one reducing the number of early voting locations.
Chatham County, the state’s fifth most populous county, will have five out of the six locations opened during the general election. Forsyth County will have five instead of the 11 from earlier this fall, and Hall County will have four instead of eight, NBC News reports.
Georgia voters will head to the polls on Jan. 5 in the runoff election that can change the majority in the Senate. If both Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, manage to beat their Republican opponents for Georgia’s two senate seats then Democrats will control the chamber, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be a tie-breaking vote. If either Republican wins, Sen. David Perdue or Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the GOP will retain control of the Senate.
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