One of Georgia’s largest counties announced last week that it will allow early voting on a Sunday in late October and will open an early voting location in a shopping mall popular among local African-Americans. Concerned that this will lead to higher African-American voter turnout and hurt his party’s dominance, one state lawmaker is speaking out and vowing to stop this easy voting for minority voters.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday that Georgia state Senator Fran Millar (R) penned an angry response to DeKalb County’s announcement that early voting will be available on Sunday, October 26, and that an early-voting location will be opened at The Gallery at South DeKalb Mall. Millar represents part of the county and is Senior Deputy Whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans.
Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb.
Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens? If this happens, so much for the accepted principle of separation of church and state.
Many predominantly Black churches around the country organize “Souls to the Polls” events that encourage churchgoers to vote after attending Sunday church services. This often relies on carpooling and is perfectly legal, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (which advocates for a strict separation of church and state). While Republicans in places like North Carolina and Ohio have pushed to eliminate Sunday voting hours, it is unusual for a legislator to so candidly admit that this strategy is about reducing African American turnout.
Millar notes that he is “investigating if there is any way to stop this action” and that he and State Representative Mike Jacobs (R) “we will try to eliminate this election law loophole in January,” as it might boost Democratic voter turnout.
On his Facebook page Tuesday, Millar stood by his comments, writing: “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters. If you don’t believe this is an efort [SIC] to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple, then you are not a realist. This is a partisan stunt and I hope it can be stopped.”