LOUISVILLE, GEORGIA — Seniors in rural Georgia were dancing in the street, preparing to board Black Voters Matter‘s bus to go cast a ballot on the first day of Georgia’s early voting period. But between 20 and 30 senior citizens were forced off the bus, in an act that organizers described as witnessing “live voter suppression.”
As roughly 40 seniors boarded the group’s bus — plastered with photos of black people and black fists — the Louisville, Georgia senior center was notified that someone had called the county commissioner and complained that the bus didn’t have the proper registration to take voters to the polls.
LaTosha Brown, one of the co-founders of Black Voters Matters, said there was nothing illegal about the group’s activity. The organization is non-partisan and the bus doesn’t endorse any particular candidate. She said she was witnessing “voter intimidation.”
“This is voter suppression, Southern style.”
“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.”
There are no laws in Jefferson County or Georgia prohibiting groups from transporting voters to the polls, and Brown said the seniors “actually requested to ride with us.” Jefferson County is roughly 53 percent black, according to Census data.
“Even in the absence of law, they will use tactics like intimidation and voter suppression,” she said. “Somebody called the county commission, but there was nothing illegal or inappropriate.”
These senior citizens just got on the @BlackVotersMtr bus to go vote, but someone in Jefferson County called the commissioner and said the bus didn’t have the proper license to drive people to the polls. The seniors, who were fired up to vote, won’t be casting ballots today. pic.twitter.com/vI93pU85Ln
— Kira Lerner (@kira_lerner) October 15, 2018
“At the end of the day, every senior that got off that bus, not only are they going to vote, but they’re going to get five to ten people to vote with them,” Brown said.
As they were planning their next steps, Louisville resident Margaret Walker drove by and rolled down her window to offer some words of encouragement. “I just want you to know, y’all are on the right path,” she said. “We have a lot of people here who don’t have transportation and can’t get to the polls.”
Cliff Albright, the group’s other co-founder, said that being confronted by this tactic only fires up the organizers even more.
“They made us even more energized,” he said, to cheers from the seniors. “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”