Black areas plagued by voting problems in Georgia, activist says

▶ Watch Video: Activists uphold John Lewis’ legacy to fight for voting rights

As the U.S. prepares to adjust for an Election Day amid the coronavirus pandemic, Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown said there are important lessons to be learned from Georgia’s meltdown during the state’s primary election in June. Brown spoke to CBSN’s Elaine Quijano on July 27 — 99 days before Election Day — as part of the “Countdown to the Vote” special. 

“What we saw was a major difference what was happening in majority White polling sites and majority Black polling sites,” Brown said. 

Brown, who voted in a part of Atlanta that is majority Black, said she witnessed this firsthand. After she herself waited three hours to vote, she then went to assist a voter who lived in a majority White area. “There was no line, there was no wait — It was like seamless,” she said.

Brown then went a majority Black area, where there were people waiting in line for five hours. She said they went to those polling sites to provide comfort and boost morale, and they stayed past midnight until the last person in line finally voted. 

Georgia’s primary, originally scheduled for March 24, was held on June 9 after being postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. But polling sites struggled with new voting machines that were purchased last year by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Though poll workers voiced their concerns about the equipment, Raffensperger’s office is putting the blame on the workers from individual counties for not knowing how to work the machines.

In Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, the Superior Court ruled the polls could stay open an extra two hours to accommodate those stuck in long lines caused by the faulty equipment. 

Brown said her organization, which she co-founded with Cliff Albright in November 2016, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia. The organization is also focused on voter education and poll monitoring ahead of the November election. Brown described them as a “power-building organization” in the “same spirit as John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.” 

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