Coronavirus, Election 2020

Atlanta Civil Rights, Voting Groups Call For Major Changes After June 9 Primaries

Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose speaks Tuesday morning. Several groups, including the NAACP, demanded changes in the way elections are run.
Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose speaks Tuesday morning. Several groups, including the NAACP, demanded changes in the way elections are run.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE
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LaTosha Brown says on June 9, she waited in line for three hours to vote, despite showing up at her polling place at 7 a.m.

After she voted, she got a call to head to a polling place in Alpharetta to help a voter as part of her role with Black Voters Matter.

When she arrived, there was no line.

“Here we are in the cradle of the civil rights movement. And I as a black voter, I as a person who’s done this work all my life, I as a native of Selma, Alabama, I have to have a completely different voting experience than my white counterparts? No! We’re tired, and we ain’t taking it no more,” said Brown.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Black Voters Matter, the People’s Agenda and the Atlanta branch of the NAACP said both Fulton County and the state of Georgia are to blame for inadequate poll worker training and long lines during last Tuesday’s primary election. They noted that many of the polling places with long lines were in minority communities.

In addition to calling for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to go, the groups also want major changes in Fulton County.

“Atlanta NAACP today calls for a revamping of the elections system in Fulton County, to include replacing the director, Richard Barron,” said Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta NAACP.

Barron has promised a review of how poll workers were trained on the state’s new voting equipment as well as processing delays for thousands of electronic absentee ballot requests.

“It was great to mail out 6.9 million applications, but the implementation process after that was flawed,” said Helen Butler with the People’s Agenda. “It shouldn’t wait 49 days [to mail absentee ballots], it should be immediately upon receipt by the election offices that they start mailing out those ballots so voters know when they get those ballots.”

The state is planning investigations in Fulton and DeKalb counties. But Butler says the time has come to stop pointing fingers.

“If there’s any election official who is not committed and doesn’t believe that every voter should be able to vote without barriers, and doesn’t have that commitment and dedication to ensuring that, then you need to step aside and let someone else take your place,” said Butler.

The groups at Tuesday’s news conference say they’ll work to help find poll workers to help fill a shortage brought on by COVID-19.

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