The Andrew Goodman Foundation Commends The Fulton County, Georgia Board Of Elections For Restoring On-Campus Early Voting Polling Locations For 2022

The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) is relieved by today’s announcement by the Fulton County, Georgia Board of Elections to restore polling locations on campuses during the early voting period after a coalition of partners and AGF urged them to do so when we learned of their proposed elimination. On-campus polling locations are a key election mechanism that correlates with significant increases in voter turnout. With today’s announcement, Fulton County will once again allow students to vote on campus during the early voting period. However, today’s expansion does not apply to all colleges and universities in the county, and goes into effect for two days on Atlanta Metropolitan State College (October 18 and 19), Georgia State University Downtown Campus (October 18 and 19), Georgia Institute of Technology (October 17 and 18), Morehouse College (October 17 and 18), and Georgia State University Alpharetta Center (October 18 and 19, pending the university’s approval).  

The Andrew Goodman Foundation is shepherding a national campaign to bring polling locations on campuses. Key to our success is youth-led change, whether it is an Andrew Goodman Ambassador like Megan Newsome, who alerted us to a statewide ban on early voting on college campuses, culminating in our precedential Twenty-Sixth Amendment litigation win in Florida, or our Andrew Goodman Campus Team at Bard College sounding the alarm for more resources to bring an ADA-accessible polling place on campus, culminating in a major recent legislative victory across the state of New York. We’ve seen our strategies work in action, and they’ve shaped The Youth Voting Rights Act, landmark legislation introduced in Congress last month

In Fulton County, Georgia, the process worked. Students sounded the alarm when the Board of Elections originally confirmed that it did not intend to situate polling locations on college campuses during the early voting period for the 2022 general election. Youth organizers understood that the Board had previously designated those sites in 2018 and 2020, but did not extend the measure for the past 2022 primary. They were again concerned when other counties in the state publicly released their list of sites for the upcoming 2022 general election. 

Young people did not sit on their hands and fret; they organized and testified, and groups like The Andrew Goodman Foundation, the ACLU of Georgia, and the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition quickly mobilized to offer support. Today, the Fulton County Board of Elections did something that is not always guaranteed and often taken for granted – they listened, and they acted.

The Board of Elections also engaged in a lengthy discussion on the need to recruit more poll workers across the county, and the Chairwoman encouraged young people to volunteer to help fill the gap. In 2020, Evan Malbrough, a current member of AGF’s Board of Directors, started the nationally-recognized Georgia Youth Poll Worker Project as a student at Georgia State University and an Andrew Goodman Ambassador. In just four months, he successfully recruited over 1,000 young people in Metro Atlanta to train to work the polls in the 2020 elections. A resulting report by The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Democracy Works, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Building a Youth Poll Worker Project, captures Evan’s success and shares his lessons for how other young people can build their own poll worker projects on their campuses and in their communities across the country.

As an organization that exists to live the legacy of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner — young people who were murdered by the KKK for believing that our democracy should be free from racial and voter discrimination — we commend today’s action. We now urge the Board of Elections to go one step further by passing a resolution 1) ensuring the protection of on-campus polling locations in the future, 2) committing to an early and transparent process for those designations, and 3) creating a non-voting member position on the Board of Elections for a student seat at the table.