Black Senior Citizens Ordered Off Georgia Bus Taking Them To Vote
“About 40 black senior citizens were told to get off a bus taking them to vote.
A group of black senior citizens riding a bus to go vote Monday didn’t get the opportunity to do so, leading to complaints of voter suppression.
The bus, run by the group Black Voters Matter, had picked up about 40 senior citizens from a senior center operated by Jefferson County and was about to depart when the center’s director said they needed to stop.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a county clerk had called the senior center raising concerns about the bus taking people from the senior center. The county clerk was informed of the event by someone anonymous, who saw the bus painted with the words “The South is Rising Tour” and called county government offices.
Following the incident, Jefferson County’s administrator said that county government considered Black Voters Matter’s event at the center “political activity,” which isn’t allowed during county-sponsored events.
However, Black Voters Matter had received permission for the event beforehand. It was originally intended to encourage senior to vote but when some seniors asked if they could ride the bus to an early-voting location, Black Voters Matter agreed to take them.
“We knew it was an intimidation tactic,” LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said. “It was really unnecessary. These are grown people.”
“It was discouraging that they weren’t able to vote,” Diane Evans, who serves as Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman, said. “When they’re suppressing votes, they’re going to come up with any kind of excuse about what your problem is.”
Evans, who was on the bus, said that the event wasn’t political and that none of its organizers advocated for any candidates.
The Jefferson County has since released a statement on the incident:
Jefferson County operates a Senior Center that provides meals and entertainment to senior citizens in Jefferson County three days per week. The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners has a long standing practice of not allowing political activities during normal business hours or at County sponsored activities. These senior citizens are under the complete care and supervision of Jefferson County while they are at the Senior Center. Jefferson County Administration felt uncomfortable with allowing Senior Center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party. Additionally, the event in question that took place at the Jefferson County Senior Center was led by the President of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and as such was considered a political event. No seniors at the Jefferson County Senior Center were denied their right to vote. In fact, Senior Center staff routinely arrange Jefferson County Public Transit to transport senior citizens to vote.