Today, Georgia’s Cobb County Director of Elections & Registration, Janine Eveler, announced changes from the county’s original plan to close over half of its early voting sites ahead of the Jan. 5, 2021 runoff election, transitioning from eleven early voting sites used for the 2020 general election to only five locations for the runoff. Four of these closures would have severely reduced Black and Latinx county residents’ access to early voting. The changes announced today will make the burdens of these closures more equitable throughout the County and, while not optimal, are substantial improvements over the original plan.
This announcement comes after civil and voting rights organizations — the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF); All Voting is Local, Georgia; Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund (SPLC); Georgia NAACP; Black Voters Matter; and American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU-GA) — sent a letter on Dec. 7 to the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration expressing concern about early voting accessibility, and urging the county to keep sites in communities of color open.
For the runoff election, the county is now planning to offer early voting at the Ron Anderson Community Center, which serves many of the county’s voters of color. The county also announced it will be adding two additional locations during the third week of early voting, one of which will serve a significant number of voters of color in Smyrna.
Michael Pernick, Georgia State Lead with LDF’s Prepared to Vote and Voting Rights Defender projects, released the following statement regarding the county’s announcement:
“We contacted Cobb County officials because their closure plan would have left the county without ample early voting locations and would have forced more people to vote in-person on Election Day. This would have led to unnecessarily long lines and increased exposure to COVID-19, which has ravaged Black and Latinx communities across the nation and in Georgia. Cobb County’s decision to respond to our concerns and offer early voting at the Ron Anderson Community Center and Smyrna Community Center, which are key early voting sites for voters of color, is certainly an improvement over the County’s initial plan and helps ensure that all eligible voters can freely and safely exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“Ahead of the Jan. 5, 2021 runoff election, we encourage Georgia voters to verify their early voting sites and ballot drop off locations, and to make a voting plan. As always, LDF will continue to hold officials accountable for ensuring that elections are safe, fair, and accessible to all voters.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.