Government officials in Jefferson County, Ga., told about 40 black senior citizens to get off a bus taking them to vote Monday, leading to complaints of voter suppression.
As Think Progress first reported, Black Voters Matter has been conducting voter outreach and engagement throughout the state in the lead up to the midterm elections. After speaking with seniors at the Leisure Center in Jefferson County about the importance of voting, they invited them to board the bus Monday to go to their polling place.
But as they were preparing to leave, a director for the senior center ordered the eager would-be voters off the bus. A Jefferson county administrator had called the center, which is county-operated, with concerns, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Black Voters Matter is a nonpartisan group encouraging African-Americans to vote in the election. However, the county government considered the event political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans helped organize it, County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement.
“Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party,” Brett said. “No seniors at the Jefferson County senior center were denied their right to vote.”
LaTosha Brown, Black Voters Matter’s other co-founder, told Think Progress there was nothing illegal about the group’s activity. The organization is non-partisan and the bus doesn’t endorse any particular candidate. She called it a clear-cut case of “voter intimidation.”
“This is voter suppression, Southern style,” said Brown. “I’m very upset. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’ve got a lot of emotions right now.”