Randolph County, Georgia, has fired Mike Malone, the election consultant behind a plan to close nearly all the polling precincts in the heavily minority county, County Attorney Tommy Coleman announced Thursday.
Malone was initially hired to fill the role of an elections supervisor until the county found someone to assume the position full time. Instead, he undertook efforts to close all but two of the county’s polling precincts — a proposal that fell outside his purview.
“That wasn’t what he was hired to do,” Coleman told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Local voters and elected officials roundly condemned Malone’s proposal, but he defended it in part by citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming that the precincts in question were not ADA compliant.
Election integrity activists weren’t buying it, though. Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, told ThinkProgress that Malone’s ADA-compliance justification was disingenuous at best.
“This is putting sheep’s clothing on a wolf,” she testified during a community meeting last week. “We support the requests of community members that the public buildings be brought in compliance with the ADA. Closing these polls will not improve access for people with disabilities and will make it harder for everyone in these communities to vote.”
Malone’s political motivations have also been called into question. In addition to the congressional midterms, Georgia voters will decide their next governor during November’s elections. Democrat Stacey Abrams is vying to become the first black female governor in U.S. history, and Randolph County — which is 61 black — went solidly for Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. Suppressing turnout in the county would heavily benefit Abrams’ Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, to whom Malone has contributed.
Malone also reportedly told residents that the idea of precinct consolidation came from Kemp himself, whose office recommended Malone to Randolph County officials in the first place. He has since recanted, telling local media that he never directly heard Kemp make such a recommendation.
Despite Malone’s termination, the county’s Board of Elections is still scheduled to vote on the proposal during a meeting on Friday. There’s little indication it will receive much — if any — support.