Some deem election change as voter discrimination

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

News12 First at Five/ April, 22, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A group of local leaders think a change to Georgia law is a form of voter discrimination.

It all centers around a decision by the Georgia Legislature to move some elections from November to May.

Now, they want the federal government to step in. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of State Representative Gloria Frazier and Earnest Smith along with a handful of others who want the federal government to decide on election dates in Augusta Richmond County.

"They're many of us that are concerned about voter suppression and discrimination here in Augusta Richmond County. We have to change that," said State Rep. Gloria Frazier.

State Representative Gloria Frazier and Earnest Smith plan to do just that with this lawsuit.

"The compliant that we filed is just another method of not rolling over and letting this legislation be," said Rep. Frazier.

"Fast forward now we are simply looking to find out who has the authority to make these federal decisions. Does the state government have the right to overturn what the Justice Department has rendered," said Rep. Smith.

He's referring to a 2012 Justice Department ruling that struck down changing the election date in Richmond County. The DOJ found a change would bring fewer minority voters to the polls.

According to their findings, African Americans are 55 percent less likely to vote in July than in November. While whites were only 41 percent likely to vote.

"This legislation that was drafted in 2012 is to me personally and to a lot of my constituents. In my opinion is a form of voter suppression and voter discrimination," said Rep. Frazier.

Last year, the supreme court struck down article four of the voting rights act. The article required certain southern states to get special approval before making any changes to the voting process.

Shortly after that, the Georgia Legislature passed a law that changed elections from November to May. Now, a hand full of elected leaders are hoping for even more change next time.

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