Wed. 12/9: Seriously, Georgia? Everybody is watching you! Call/Write!

(BLM tweet above) Cobb County helped Joe Biden become the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Georgia since 1992. It had been reported on Monday that their elections director, Janine Eveler, planned to cut the number of early voting locations for the runoff elections on January 5th from eleven to five, claiming intractable employee issues. This came among other GOP voter suppression news – Tuesday, GA Republicans called for throwing out their own no-excuse absentee voting system they created in 2005, and cut down early voting sites in Forsyth County and others.

However, a letter from the NAACP, the GA ACLU+friends has caused some backtracking for Cobb County…Now Eveler’s proposing 5 sites for the first two weeks and 2 more for the final week. (Early voting begins on Monday, Dec. 14, and runs through New Year’s Eve.) Still not enough, if the multi-hour lines from the general election’s 11 early voting sites are any guide.

To help visualize the numbers, here’s a comparison of rough early-voting access ratios, comparing several Cobb County scenarios, with the three other similarly-sized counties in GA.

County NameGross Population#Early Voting locations# of locations/per pop.
Cobb (Jan. 5th run-off) Original proposal 707,442(5) originally proposed(1) per 141,488 (!!!)
Cobb (Jan. 5th run-off)
Revised proposal
707,442(5) proposed + (2) to open in last week(1) per 101,063
Cobb (2020 Election)707,442(11) (1) per 64,312
DeKalb707,089(11)(1) per 64,000
Gwinnet842,046(9)(1) per 93,561
Fulton1,041,423(32)(1) per 32,544

Using the same data sets, most of Georgia’s crazy-large number of counties have ratios under (1) per 50,000, with many under (1) per 20,000. Forsyth County, the wealthiest in the state, has a (1) per 37,000 ratio for its 187,928 voters.

However, this chart can’t show how Eveler’s original closures specifically targeted Black and Latinx voters in minority neighborhoods in the southern end of the county. As the next closest sites were between five and 12 miles away, voters faced limited and inadequate public transportation or the dangers of carpooling during a pandemic.

Tell them to put the full 11 early voting locations back! Deliberately forcing a population susceptible to the harshest effects of COVID into fewer facilities and hazardous travel options, just to exercise their right to vote, is beyond an exercise in political gamesmanship. It is an exercise of depraved indifference. This issue, in one county out of 159, in one state out of 50, might have slid beneath our attention during the Trump-circus of the regular election.

But we’re all watching Georgia now.

Action #1: Call the Cobb County Elections Division.

Contact: 770-528-2581

Minimal script: I’m calling to ask that you return all 11 early voting centers for the Jan. 5th run-off election. During the general election, there were already 5 to 10 hour waits at the eleven centers functioning at that time. Now, it’s winter, and the COVID is roaring and your office needs to make it possible for folks living neighborhoods without public transportation to make it safely to the polls. You need to make sure that this susceptible population isn’t crowded into fewer facilities. This is more than just political gamesmanship. You are responsible for those who just want to exercise their right as American citizens.

Action #2: Email Janine! Tell her to do the right thing.

Contact: Be creative. Use your own voice. Be as positive as you can.

Dear Director Eveler,

I’m writing to ask that you restore all 11 of the early voting locations to Cobb County for the Jan. 5th run-off election. I read in the Washington Post that you’d planned to cut the number of locations down to five, but it seems that you’re planning to put a couple back, due to feedback you’ve received from a coalition of the NAACP, the Georgia ALCU and other voting rights organizations. That’s not enough. Eleven locations weren’t adequate to serve your county during the general election’s early voting period, as voters in your county waited in lines for five to 10 hours.

The NAACP has a good case that the shuttered polling sites deliberately targeted minority neighborhoods, and people who have difficulty traveling long distances due to lack to public transportation options. They were righteously alarmed that folks already more susceptible to the hazards of COVID were being asked to attempt to travel to sites five and 12 miles away in winter and to crowd into fewer facilities.

You probably never thought, sitting in your elections office, that your decisions could endanger someone’s life. Elections can be brutal, but people didn’t DIE because of them, right? But that was pre-pandemic, and now, you need to ask if everything you do is protecting or harming the voters in your care.

I am glad that it looks like you’ve solved your election worker problem. Probably many people would volunteer as well. I myself have served as a volunteer poll inspector several times. Georgia’s election officials have made your state proud on the national stage, protecting our 2020 general election from attacks against democracy. Now it’s you who are in the news and it’s your turn to do the right thing. I do not envy you that in this current environment.

I send courage, because everything about this is hard, and my best wishes.

[name, city, state]

More to do:

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