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August 27--  The Washington-based "Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights" is praising a decision by the Jeff Davis County Board of Elections to re-open a polling place in the county's majority-minority voting precinct.

The group says the Board's reversal is due to a joint grassroots and advocacy campaign which it and other organizations in Georgia orchestrated.

“This is a victory for African American voters across Georgia who are too often subject to a relentless campaign of voter suppression,” said John Powers, Counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “This reversal shows the power of resistance and the impact that we can have by leveraging our voices against injustice.  We are pleased that the Board has seen fit to bow both to needs of the electorate and the dictates of the law and reject this poorly conceived polling place consolidation.  The right to vote is the most sacred civil right in our democracy and we stand fully prepared to defend that right.”

In May, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a pre-suit demand letter to the Jeff Davis County Board of Elections and Registrars objecting to the consolidation of the majority-minority Hazlehurst Precinct and urging the Board to reverse its decision immediately.  The demand letter was issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the New Georgia Project and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  Following the release of the letter, the New Georgia Project and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda led a petition drive, signed by numerous Hazlehurst Precinct electors, formally objecting to the consolidation.  The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP organized turnout by affected voters at Jeff Davis County Board meetings and worked with other Georgia organizations to coordinate outreach with local and state election officials.  The local Community League, led by Glen Davis, worked with the Jeff Davis County Board of Commissioners and organized grassroots efforts in Hazlehurst in support of the reversal.

“This decision is a tribute to the minority voters of Jeff Davis County,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  “They have spoken out loudly against the consolidation, and we applaud the Board of Elections for heeding their call to abandon it.  It makes no sense to risk disenfranchising voters in the 2020 elections.”

“We applaud the Board of Elections for making a decision that makes voting more accessible,” said Phyllis Blake, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP.  “As we approach the 2020 elections, the focus should be on improving access to the ballot for Georgia voters, not on closing polling places and placing unnecessary burdens on voters.”