The Lincoln County BOE met on February 23, 2022, to vote on whether they would decrease polling locations from 7 locations to 3 locations. 20 minutes before the meeting was set to start Helen Butler’s office (The Peoples Agenda) let the Elections Director, Lilvender E. Bolton, as well as the board and Lincoln County community members, know that they have raised 20% of the population’s signature in a petition denouncing the vote on closing polling locations. The reason for this is because with 20% of the voters from precincts signing this petition Lincoln County is not legally allowed to make the vote to close said precincts.
Denise Freeman: Your notice of this vote was unsatisfactory. It failed to give even basic information about how voters will be impacted. This is in addition to being unable to find evidence of any work session where the specifics of this proposed 3 polling precinct plan were discussed.
Our opens records request from both February 8th and 11th were never responded to and ignored
Meeting is called to order
James H. Allen (Board Chairman) “there will be no questions asked or answered during the meeting today,” and also stated that the board would be moving forward with the vote after the “concerned citizen/ voter to address the board” portion of the meeting. This was not favorable among attendees of the meeting, and they let it be known while sharing their testimonies.
Denise Freeman: “Studies have shown that closing polling precincts has an adverse effect on voting turnout.” She goes on to state that they claim this will save money in the number of poll workers but would they not need to hire more poll workers to bolster the three locations left in addition to all the workers that would need to hired to provide rides to voters
One board member attempts to interrupt Ms. Freeman stating she has 2 minutes but the chair states she has 5 minutes.
Denise Freeman: “Ignorance will not save you, if the stated issues are not the problem, then what is? If you pass this vote it will be a clear violation of state law
Dr. Holloway of the Ministerial Line in Lincoln County: “I don’t think you understand the geography of Lincoln County. I’m asking the board not to close these locations as many do not have transportation to go elsewhere. Please vote tonight that we will have more polling locations! Hallelujah!
*Important to note at this point board members were passing notes to each other and ignoring speakers
Speaker 3 representative of the republican party in Georgia notes that he is in support of the proposed reduction in polling locations
Speaker 4: This is not about parties; this is about preserving the vote. The board do not know why they are closing the polling locations nor do they have a plan in place
Speaker 5: criticizes board for not answering questions during these public comments
Brittany Jones-Chukura: My name is Britt and I am the director of the Peanut Gallery with New Georgia Project where we attend Board of Elections meetings and bring to light issues where voters are suppressed. As the Board of elections, it is your job to empower voters to exercise their right to vote yet this is clear voter suppression. Know that if you go forward with this vote, it is illegal and that every seat is replaceable
Tori McFarland: The Crux of the matter is that we all see that there is no plan in place for this vote. I’ve attended a previous meeting where these same questions were brought up and the voters were told to wait for answers that you don’t yet have, like how you will transport all these voters huge distances. Proper planning dictates that you have these details ironed out before you make a vote that would disenfranchise thousands of voters. It’s clear to us all you have no plan and no reasons that are not nefarious.
Shortly after testimonials were given at 6:24 PM, Allen stood up and said that the meeting was adjourned, and the board will be postponing the vote for another date. Not answering any questions presented, board members started to trail out while media and community members stayed behind to discuss their disdain
Did you know that the public can attend Board of Registration and Elections meetings?
These meetings are open to the public by Georgia law. Georgia Open Meetings Act.
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