It was only a matter of time.
Thirteen days before Americans elect the next president of the United States, it appears that Black voters in Georgia are being systematically excluded from the electoral process.
Community activists and Georgia elected officials say there is widespread discrimination in one Georgia county – Hancock County, about 70 miles west of Augusta, GA.
Voter suppression tactics designed to keep Black folks from voting isn’t new but today, with a tight presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, every vote counts. Clinton needs an outpouring of support from the African-American community to propel her into the White House.
Civil rights advocates have filed a lawsuit in Hancock County demanding that officials investigate what they contend is a systematic effort to prevent African-Americans from voting in Sparta, Georgia next month.
They say more than 100,000 voter registration applications have not been processed. They also claim that sheriff’s deputies harassed 180 Black residents by going door-to-door asking them to appear in court to prove their residency.
And it gets worse: If the Black residents don’t comply, according to the sheriff’s deputies, they could lose their right to vote.
“This is not a surprise,” State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler told reporters. “This is a new form of voter suppression and voter dilution. “We cannot, in 2016, allow 1960, 1934, 1954 tactics to be used in the state of Georgia.”
Meanwhile, new polls show Clinton and Trump are locked in a statistical tie in Georgia and that what was once a traditional red state that could now turn blue.
Bill Murrain, a former civil rights lawyer based in Atlanta who supports Clinton, said minority voters can be game-changers in this and future elections.
“In this the reddest of states, Trump’s chicanery and buffoonery are operating to give the Democrats of the state of Georgia a realistic opportunity at the ballot,” Murrain said. “Many of my friends and neighbors are excited by the opportunity and are now donating to the Georgia State party, volunteering and doing our share to register new voters as well as making every effort to get as many voters as possible to the polls early.”
In Fulton County, which makes up much of Atlanta, there were 363,000, African-Americans living in the county in 2000 compared to 421,000 in 2015, according to Census data. Many Georgia residents believe if Georgia turns blue, it could also impact other southern states.
According to the Center for American Progress, “In the last decade, Georgia had a rapid rate of increase in its minority population, going from 37 to 44 percent minority over the time period. The increase in the minority population accounted for 81 percent of Georgia’s growth over the decade. Unusually, the biggest contributor to minority growth came from Blacks, who alone accounted for 39 percent of Georgia’s growth.
“It is a shame that anyone would feel it’s appropriate to send a sheriff’s deputy to the home of anyone to check their voter registration,” State Rep. LaDawn Blackett-Jones told reporters. “That is unheard of and that is unacceptable.”
Thirteen days before Election Day and we’re talking about the same voter suppression tactics that Black folks experienced in the 1950s.
It’s pathetic that history keeps repeating itself.
What do you think?