by Molly Prince
Democrats have been criticizing Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp over a proposal to shut down three-quarters of the voting precincts in a predominately black county, leading to possible voter disenfranchisement, despite the decision to do so resting in Democrats’ own hands.
Randolph County officials ordered an outside consultant to review the county’s polling locations, according to Reuters. The consultant, Mike Malone, was recommended by the office of the secretary of state, which currently belongs to Kemp, who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate. Malone shared findings earlier in August, which resulted in the recommendation that seven of the nine voting precincts in Randolph County close due to violating the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
As he gave his recommendation, Malone inaccurately stated that “consolidation has come highly recommended by the secretary of state,” reported Politically Georgia. Kemp denied the claim and Malone has since retracted it. Malone later said “I don’t recall ever hearing anything from the secretary of state that said they recommend [the proposal].”
Randolph County fired Malone on Wednesday evening, according to Politically Georgia.
“He’s certainly done more than enough,” a county official said regarding Malone. “The county is distressed because of the position they’ve found themselves in.”
The county’s election board is considering the consultant’s proposal to shut down the seven precincts prior to November’s gubernatorial election, where Kemp is running against Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, who would be the nation’s first black and female governor if elected. The precincts in question were in use for both the primary election in May and the primary runoff in July, and officials have been aware of the ADA non-compliance issues for over five years, according to CBS News.
Despite both Kemp and Abrams publicly opposing the closures, Kemp has been taking heat for supposedly trying to suppress votes during a potentially historic election. In an opinion piece, Abrams called the proposal “suppression tactics” and emphasized the importance of voting her into office so not to “cede our right to vote.” She also lashed out in a series of tweets, comparing it to the Jim Crow South.
Kemp, however, does not have a say in the matter. The Randolph County commission, which appoints the election board, has a Democratic majority. Two members of the election board, a Republican and a Democrat, will ultimately decide whether or not to accept the proposal. However, since the motion must be seconded to advance, Democrats can block the decision.
“Georgia Democrats are attacking local Democrat election officials on a proposal that both Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams oppose,” said Jason Watson, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. “Clearly, Democrats want to use voters to score political points — and then blame the crises on Republicans.”
The Georgia GOP also opposes the proposal.
Abrams did not immediately respond for a request to comment.
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