RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ga. — A local elections board in a south Georgia county has decided to keep all nine polling locations open after planning to close seven of them.
The Randolph County Elections Board voted 2-0 against the controversial proposal to close the precincts Friday.
The unanimous decision took only minutes and came with no comments or discussion. The vote comes after concerned clergy, NAACP and ACLU members converged on Randolph County, holding community meetings, canvassing and signing petitions.
The decision comes just three months before the November election.
"They decided to do the right thing," one activist said, though many were surprised at how quickly the decision was made.
“This is a victory for the people of Randolph County," another activist said. "We are proud to have stood with them to fight for their sacred right to vote.”
Officials in the he rural south Georgia community, which is 60 percent black, originally proposed closing seven of nine polling station to save money and meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The plan drew outrage from around the state, even the nation, as some saw it as an effort to surpress the black vote.
Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach spoke to the Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia, Andrea Young, about the proposal to close the polling locations.
“It was just very concerning that something would disrupt voting in Randolph County right before a hotly contested governor’s race," Young said.
The ACLU plans to go back to Randolph County to hold another community meeting next week and continue to monitor what's going on in the November election.
“In the United States, the right to vote is sacred,” said a statement from the Randolph County Board of Elections. “The interest and concern shown has been overwhelming, and it is an encouraging reminder that protecting the right to vote remains a fundamental American principle."
Democratic nominee for governor and former House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams released the following statement:
“Today is a triumph, not just for the people of Randolph County, but for every Georgian. In a predominantly Black, rural community, where public transportation is severely lacking, asking voters to travel up to 30 miles to access the ballot box would have been antithetical to our democratic values. I applaud Randolph County on its decision keep all nine of its polling locations open—and I recommit to ensuring that all eligible Georgians in every region of our state have access the ballot box, to cast their votes and make their voices heard.”
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