Government officials told approximately 40 black senior citizens to get off of a bus that was taking them to vote on Monday in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Monday marked the first day of in-person early voting in the state, and a bus, run by the nonpartisan group Black Voters Matter, was preparing to depart from a senior center operated by Jefferson County when the center’s director ordered the senior citizens off, LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told the newspaper.
According to Think Progress, someone had called county officials and complained about the bus, and the county clerk gave the order for the senior citizens to disembark.
County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement to the news outlet: “Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party.”
Organizers of Black Voters Matter believe this to be an act of “live voter suppression.” Brown said that it was an “intimidation tactic,” adding, “It was really unnecessary. These are grown people.”
“No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote,” Brett told the outlet. However, while the seniors were not denied their right to vote, they were denied a ride to their voting location, which will significantly prevent them from casting their ballot.
The event held at the senior center before seniors asked to be taken to their polling place was nonpartisan, and did not advocate for any candidate.
However, Georgia has seen its fair share of press regarding alleged voter suppression. According to a recent AP report, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp — the Republican candidate running for governor who also oversees state elections — put over 53,000 voter registration applications on hold because they didn’t meet the state’s “exact match” standard, according to NBC News. The AP reports that although Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, a disproportionate number — 70 percent — of those deferred voter registration applications belong to black residents. (Civil rights groups are now suing Kemp.)
“The seniors were so resolved,” Brown said. “They said, ‘We’re going to vote. Nobody’s going to stop us.’ It wasn’t the first time someone has denied them or tried to prevent them from voting.”
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