As we approach a decisive midterm election, many of us are ready and raring to cast our ballots early. It’s the easiest way to skip the long lines and alleviate the pressures of Election Day.
However, in Georgia—a state that is already facing accusations of voter suppression thanks to the shenanigans of Secretary of State Brian Kemp whose office was accused of stalling 53,000 voter registration applications—40 Black senior citizens were ordered off of the bus taking them to vote.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the 40 senior citizens had boarded the bus run by Black Voters Matter, and was just about to leave a senior center operated by Jefferson County, when the center’s director ordered them to disembark.
Apparently, according to the report, a county clerk had called the senior center to raise “concerns” about the bus transporting the residents away from the center.
“We knew it was an intimidation tactic,” Latosha Brown, a co-founder of the organization told the news site. “It was really unnecessary. These are grown people.”
Apparently the issue was pushed because the county government labeled the event as “political activity,” which isn’t allowed during county sponsored events.
Although Black Voters Matter is nonpartisan, with the sole purpose of encouraging more Black people to vote during the election, the event was considered political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans assisted in the organization of the event.
“Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party,” County Administrator Adam Brett insisted. “No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote.”
The seniors agreed to get off of the bus and opted to cast their votes later.
However, Black Voters Matter said they received permission beforehand to escort the senior citizens to the polling location.
“It was discouraging that they weren’t able to vote,” Evans, who was on the bus, added. “When they’re suppressing votes, they’re going to come up with any kind of excuse about what your problem is.”
To top it all off, when the senior citizens got off of the bus, they were first told that they could go in a county van provided by the center to cast their ballots. However, the center’s leaders later decided that it was too close to lunch time, so the residents would have to vote another day.
Still, the seniors are determined to find a way to vote as the election day approaches.
“The seniors were so resolved. They said: ‘We’re going to vote. Nobody’s going to stop us,’ ” Brown said. “It wasn’t the first time someone has denied them or tried to prevent them from voting.”